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Researchers win journal award for study of augmented communication

Monday, August 15, 2011 – Ann Claycombe

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In 2010, a group of Georgia State University researchers produced a study on a system that uses computers to help teach language to very young children with learning disabilities. That study has now been selected for a 2010 Editor’s Award by the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, in which it was published.

The article won the award for the Language section of the journal. An article selected for an Editor's Award is the one that the Editor and Associate Editor feel meets the highest quality standards in research design, presentation and impact for a given year.

The study was conducted by MaryAnn Romski, professor of communication, Rose A. Sevcik, Lauren B. Adamson and Roger Bakeman, all professors of psychology (Bakeman is an emeritus) as well as Melissa Cheslock, a staff speech-language pathologist, and developmental psychology graduate students Ashlyn Smith and Mike Barker. In the study, the researchers used different types of interventions with children ages 21 months to 3 years, including one called parent-coached augmented communication, which uses a speech-generating computer that produces words to correspond with pictures.

Vocabulary is more than the words that a child can speak - it also includes the words produced through a speech-generating device or by some other method.

Overall, the children gained a greater vocabulary to communicate with their parents using augmented communication than with the traditional speech communication intervention.

The research was funded through the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health. Romski and her colleagues are using a grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences to follow the children into elementary school, and to refine the interventions. They are also looking at the effects of the intervention on parents' stress and perception of the child's skills.

The authors are members of the Center for Research into Atypical Development and Learning, or CRADL, and the university Area of Focus: Research on the Challenges to Acquiring Language and LIteracy.

The article, "Randomized Comparison of Augmented and Nonaugmented Language Interventions for Toddlers With Developmental Delays and Their Parents," is available online at http://jslhr.asha.org/cgi/content/full/53/2/350.