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Roche, L; Sigafoos, J; Lancioni, GE; O'Reilly, MF; Green, VA; Sutherland, D; van der Meer, L; Schlosser, RW; Marschik, PB; Edrisinha, CD.
Tangible Symbols as an AAC Option for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities: A Systematic Review of Intervention Studies.
Augment Altern Commun. 2014; 55(4): Doi: 10.3109/07434618.2013.878958
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Marschik Peter

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We reviewed nine studies evaluating the use of tangible symbols in AAC interventions for 129 individuals with developmental disabilities. Studies were summarized in terms of participants, tangible symbols used, communication functions/skills targeted for intervention, intervention procedures, evaluation designs, and main findings. Tangible symbols mainly consisted of three-dimensional whole objects or partial objects. Symbols were taught as requests for preferred objects/activities in five studies with additional communication functions (e.g., naming, choice making, protesting) also taught in three studies. One study focused on naming activities. With intervention, 54% (n = 70) of the participants, who ranged from 3 to 20 years of age, learned to use tangible symbols to communicate. However, these findings must be interpreted with caution due to pre-experimental or quasi-experimental designs in five of the nine studies. Overall, tangible symbols appear promising, but additional studies are needed to establish their relative merits as a communication mode for people with developmental disabilities.

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
Augmentative and alternative communication
Developmental disabilities
Tangible symbols
Systematic review
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