Description and Preliminary Evaluation of a Curriculum for Teaching Conversational Skills to Children With High-Functioning Autism and Other Social Cognition Challenges Purpose The purpose of this clinical focus article is to provide (a) a detailed description of a school-based intervention designed to teach children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HF-ASDs) and other social cognition challenges both the how and the why of conversation and (b) a preliminary evaluation of program outcomes. ... Clinical Focus
Clinical Focus  |   July 01, 2016
Description and Preliminary Evaluation of a Curriculum for Teaching Conversational Skills to Children With High-Functioning Autism and Other Social Cognition Challenges
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Eve Müller
    The Ivymount School and Programs, Rockville, MD
  • Lynn R. Cannon
    The Ivymount School and Programs, Rockville, MD
  • Courtney Kornblum
    The Ivymount School and Programs, Rockville, MD
  • Jonna Clark
    The Ivymount School and Programs, Rockville, MD
  • Michal Powers
    The Ivymount School and Programs, Rockville, MD
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Eve Müller: emuller@ivymount.org
  • Editor: Marilyn Nippold
    Editor: Marilyn Nippold×
  • Associate Editor: Jeannene Ward-Lonergan
    Associate Editor: Jeannene Ward-Lonergan×
Article Information
Normal Language Processing / Language Disorders / Social Communication & Pragmatics Disorders / Clinical Focus
Clinical Focus   |   July 01, 2016
Description and Preliminary Evaluation of a Curriculum for Teaching Conversational Skills to Children With High-Functioning Autism and Other Social Cognition Challenges
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2016, Vol. 47, 191-208. doi:10.1044/2016_LSHSS-15-0042
History: Received June 24, 2015 , Revised November 18, 2015 , Accepted January 28, 2016
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2016, Vol. 47, 191-208. doi:10.1044/2016_LSHSS-15-0042
History: Received June 24, 2015; Revised November 18, 2015; Accepted January 28, 2016

Purpose The purpose of this clinical focus article is to provide (a) a detailed description of a school-based intervention designed to teach children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HF-ASDs) and other social cognition challenges both the how and the why of conversation and (b) a preliminary evaluation of program outcomes.

Method This pilot study involved (a) qualitative and quantitative analysis of video footage of participants' conversational skills at baseline, during intervention, and postintervention; (b) interviews with participants' speech-language pathologist (third author) about individual participant progress; and (c) interviews with instructors responsible for implementing the curriculum regarding overall program effectiveness. Participants were four elementary-aged children with HF-ASDs and other social cognition challenges with deficits in expressive language and auditory processing and comprehension.

Results Analyses of video-recorded footage indicated increases for all four participants in terms of peer-directed interactions, questions asked, use of wh-words to introduce new topics and/or extend conversation on existing topics, and attempts at conversational repair. Three participants also demonstrated increased use of attention-gaining behaviors. Qualitative analysis of transcripts, as well as in-depth interviews with the participants' speech-language pathologist and other program instructors, supported these findings.

Conclusions Preliminary findings from this pilot study suggest that providing comprehensive instruction in many of the basic components required for successful conversation, including explanations for why these components are necessary, may be a promising means of teaching children with HF-ASDs and other social cognition challenges to engage in successful peer-to-peer conversation.

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