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Comparative Outcomes: Effectiveness of Digital and Synthetic Augmentative Alternative Communication

Co-Principal Investigators:

 Cathy Bodine, PhD
 Patricia C. Heyn, PhD

University of Colorado

 Christina Perkins, MA, CCC-SLP
 Greg McGrew, ME
 Maureen Melonis, MNS, CCC-SLP

State University of New York at Buffalo, NY, Co-Principal Investigators:

 Marcia Scherer, PhD
 Jeff Higgombothem, PhD

University of California, Davis, CA, Co-Principal Investigators:

 Randi Hagerman, MD


A multi-site, Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) efficacy study compared the effects of two AAC devices on the language, and cognition of children with neurodevelopmental disorders (Down and Fragile X syndromes) age 5-12 years old. Participants were randomized to either device 1 (Chatbox 40) or device 2 (ALT-Chat), and a randomized pre- and -post, multi-site design was used to investigate the effectiveness of the AAC devices.

Once the children were assigned to a device, they received 32 weeks of intervention with a Speech-Language Pathologist. A wide variety of games and activities taught the children how to functionally communicate using their devices. Once all of the participants completed their interventions, researchers analyzed the learning outcomes of each group to determine if one device worked better than the other for this particular population of children.

Prior to this study, the field of Augmentative Alternative Communication had not conducted research to examine which AAC technology had the greatest impact, or what interventions were most effective for these populations. ATP in cooperation with the University of Buffalo and the University of California Davis were the first to pioneer a comparative AAC device trial.

Funding for this project was provided by the National Institutes of Health, Grant #5UL1RR025780-02S5.