Research Results

This early intervention was evaluated by Dr. Janice Light and Dr. Kathy Drager through a research study funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) as part of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Communication Enhancement (The AAC-RERC) (grant # H133E030018).


A total of 9 children participated in the research project.

Participants included young children of various ages:

  • Infants
  • Toddlers
  • Preschoolers

Participants included children with a wide range of special needs:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Other developmental disabilities

All of the children had complex communication needs.
They communicated using many different means:

  • Vocalizations, word approximations, and spoken words
  • Signs and gestures
  • Pointing to symbols and/or pictures
  • PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System)
  • Speech generating devices / computers

Genevieve is so excited to talk with Janice.

Participants included young children of various ages

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The intervention followed the procedures described in this website.

With each of the children, we

  • Identified meaningful contexts for communication and social interaction
  • Provided access to effective means to communicate
  • Selected appropriate individualized vocabulary
  • Set up the environment to support communication
  • Used interaction strategies to support the children’s communication

We conducted intervention:

  • In individualized sessions with the child and his or her family 
  • In the child’s home
  • Once per week for approximately 60 minutes per session

Jackson is counting with his mom and Janice.

Jackson practices counting skills with Janice.

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All of the children made substantial gains in their language and communication skills.

  • All of the children demonstrated significant increases in their turn taking.
    • They learned to initiate more conversational turns.
    • They learned to sustain interactions with others for a longer time.
  • All of the children learned to participate in different types of interactions; for example: 
    • To interact socially
    • To exchange information and learn
    • To express their needs and wants
  • All of the children demonstrated significant increases in the number of words and ideas they were able to express.
    • They learned many new words and concepts.
  • As the children grew, they learned to combine concepts to communicate more complex messages.
    • They learned to use longer messages.
  • As preschoolers, many of the children developed phonological awareness skills and learned literacy skills.
    • Many of the children entered school as readers!
    • Click here for further information on the Literacy Instruction for children with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and other disabilities.

Click here to see videos of the children’s success stories.

Click here for a downloadable reference list (as a .pdf file) of peer-reviewed publications and presentations.


Last Updated: August 31, 2012