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The application of specific principles of the behavioural approach and visual supports to introduce augmentative and alternative communication for preschool children with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities

Urška Lovrenčič (2022) The application of specific principles of the behavioural approach and visual supports to introduce augmentative and alternative communication for preschool children with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities. MSc thesis.

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    Abstract

    In this Master's thesis, we have used the professional literature to introduce autism spectrum disorders (hereafter AM) and intellectual disabilities (hereafter MDR). We have focused on pre-school children because of the importance of early treatment. Children with these two disorders, which are hereafter abbreviated AM and/or MDR, because of their frequent co-occurrence, have significant developmental delays in verbal and non-verbal communication. As a result, they express their desires and needs through various forms of undesired behaviour, which can be very stressful for both, the child and those around him/her. Undesired behaviour is often challenging for professional workers, so we wanted to explore the causes and ways to help transform behaviour. First and foremost, we need to be aware that this is their way of communicating. In the following theoretical part, we have presented the undesirable behaviour of children with AM and/or MDR in a structured way. If we want to change them, we first need to understand them well. In addition, we also need to know the approaches that can help us change communication patterns into more functional and socially acceptable ones. Below we list common approaches to unwanted behaviour modification. When a child does not develop speech in the expected way, we can help with forms of augmentative and alternative communication (hereafter PINK), which include Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). The latter consists of the principles of the Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) approach and the principles of visual supports. In the research part of the thesis, we tested the knowledge and use of the principles of the behavioural approach and visual supports for the introduction of augmentative and alternative communication. Data were collected using a survey questionnaire. The survey included professional workers employed in the development departments of kindergartens across Slovenia, where children with AM and/or MDR are most often enrolled. The questionnaire was answered by 85 respondents, the majority of whom were special education teachers and defectologists (68.2 %). First, we wanted to know which undesirable behaviours are most frequently noticed in children with AM and/or MDR. Passive and stereotypical behaviours were most commonly reported by professional workers. We then explored what approaches they use to modify the undesirable behaviours associated with deficits in social communication and interaction. The results showed that the PECS model is used by 88.0 % of the respondents. The main part of the questionnaire was about the knowledge and use of the principles of the behavioural approach and the visual supports for the introduction of PINK. The results showed that positive reinforcement is known and frequently used in practice by all respondents. This principle is one of the most effective and widely studied principles of the behavioural approach. The results also showed that all respondents are familiar with pictorial instructions and choice restrictions. However, when it comes to applying the principles, most of the persons interviewed chose the schedule of activities. It was established that it is also frequently used in practice by professional workers. The principle is part of the visual supports that provides a structure for children.

    Item Type: Thesis (MSc thesis)
    Keywords: augmentative and alternative communication, behavioural approach, visual supports, autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, PECS model
    Number of Pages: 87
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    doc. dr. Erna ŽgurMentor
    Link to COBISS: https://plus.si.cobiss.net/opac7/bib/peflj/113924355
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 7252
    Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2022 07:35
    Last Modified: 06 Jul 2022 07:35
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/7252

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