Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 3, 351-362.
Abstract: The use of technology, especially speech-generating devices (SGDs), has generated a great deal of attention. In order to assess the quality and effectiveness of such strategies, many issues related to terminology and teaching require careful attention. The first section begins with a discussion about functional communication, including long-term goals, from a behavioral perspective. Key issues will include speaker vs. listener distinctions, functional units, and factors related to expanding communication repertoires. The next section reviews SGDs, their popularity, and concerns such as distinguishing between toy use vs. communication device and the role of the audio output. Next, factors related to demonstrations that a user knows the meaning of words in different modalities will be considered. There follows a look at some research examples related to both SGD and picture use by adolescents and adults with ASD regarding functional communication. This section includes examples of studies that appear to have overestimated functional outcomes as well as noting the overall paucity of research demonstrating a robust gain in repertoire size and complexity. Lastly, suggestions are offered associated with determining how clinicians can assure that efforts to teach functional communication to individual teenagers and adults will result in effective outcomes.