Behavioral Effects of Teaching American Sign Language to Children with Autism Using Applied Behavioral Analysis Techniques
Spigelman, Sarah I.
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An estimated 1 out of every 110 children born today in the United States suffers from an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and it is believed that as many as half of all individuals with autism, the most common ASD, lack functional speech. This inability to communicate is also thought to contribute to the problem of disruptive behaviors that many children with autism have. In recent years, two methods of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) have been the subject of much study due to their potential use in providing some form of communication to individuals with autism, particularly children. These two forms of communication are sign language, notably American Sign Language (ASL), and the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). For the present study, ASL was chosen over PECS for its potentially more applicable use in relation to behavioral problems. Through the implementation of ASL training using the Applied Behavior Analysis method, a method proven to aid in the treatment of autism, it is hypothesized that the number of disruptive behaviors in children with autism can be significantly reduced.
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