Preference-Enhanced Communication Intervention and Development of Social Communicative Functions in a Child With Autism Spectrum Disorder


Individuals with autism spectrum disorder who exhibit limited speech can learn to communicate by using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems. The authors describe the case of Ian, a 10-year-old boy with autism spectrum disorder who had learned to use an Apple iPod- and iPad-based speech-generating device, picture exchange, and manual signing for functional communication (e.g., requesting), but had difficulty in using these AAC systems for spontaneous and socially oriented functions of communication. His difficulties were originally conceptualized as reflecting the social interaction and communication deficits characteristic of ASD. Alternatively, the authors suggest that the intervention did not allow for the development of more advanced communication. A preference-enhanced intervention was introduced with Ian’s chosen AAC system only—the iPad-based speech-generating device. Opportunities for communication were created by using highly motivating activities and behavioral strategies. Results suggest that the approach facilitated development of spontaneous and socially oriented communication.


van der Meer, L., Sigafoos, J. Sutherland, D., McLay, L., Lang, R., Lancioni, G. E., . . . Marschik, P. B. (2013). Preference-enhanced communication intervention and development of social communicative functions in a child with autism spectrum disorder. Clinical Case Studies, 13, 282–295. doi:10.1177/1534650113508221