Authors: Müller E, Cannon LR, Kornblum C, Clark J, Powers M
Title: Description and Preliminary Evaluation of a Curriculum for Teaching Conversational Skills to Children With High-Functioning Autism and Other Social Cognition Challenges
Source: Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools 2016 47(3): 191-208
Year: 2016
Research Design: Case Series

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.

Access: Open Access