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Session 3 Assessing Communication Skills & Analyzing Communicative Environments.

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1 Session 3 Assessing Communication Skills & Analyzing Communicative Environments


3 Using Single Subject Research to Establish “Evidence-based Practices”  A “practice” may be considered “evidence-based” when: The practice is operationally defined, and implemented with fidelity. The outcomes associated with the practice are operationally defined. The context in which the practice in use is operationally defined Results from the single subject studies used to assess the practice demonstrate experimental control. The effects are replicated across 5 single subject studies conducted in at least 3 locations, and with at least 20 different participants.

4 Dependent and independent variables  Dependent variable (DV) – the behavior (measure) that you are analyzing You want to produce change (variability) in the dependent variable Studies may have multiple DVs  Independent variable (IV) – the variable (event, intervention, condition) that is of experimental interest and that the researcher manipulates in an experimental research design Studies may have multiple IVs

5 Level Trend Variability Immediacy of Effect Overlap Phase APhase BPhase A Phase B Research Question???

6 In SSD, a Functional Relationship/Experimental Control has occurred when  There are 3 demonstrations of an effect at 3 points in time. Effect could be: change in trend or level Also want to see immediacy of effect  Good research has at least 5 data points in each phase to establish a consistent pattern in the data.

7 Defining Features of Multiple Baseline Designs  A multiple baseline design involves three or more AB interventions (series) with phase changes staggered across at least three points in time.  Key Features Series are independent of each other  People, places, materials, behaviors/skills The same IV is applied in each series Staggered implementation of IV

8 Vivian 0 20 40 60 80 100 Tammy 0 20 40 60 80 100 Dr. Cathy 20 40 60 80 100 010203040506070 Percentage of Correct Responding BL Sessions Treatment Lollipop for R+ 6

9 Defining features of withdrawal and reversal designs  Sequential phases of data collection involving the implementation and withdrawal of an independent variable(s) within each phase, multiple data points are collected to establish a representative pattern of behavior phase change should occur only after stability of behavior within the phase is established traditionally, the first phase is Baseline, followed by implementation of the IV (Intervention)  this is not required, however, as you may begin a study with an intervention phase

10 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 15101520253035 Sessions Total SIB per minute FCTBaseline FCT 4B

11 Alternating Treatment Designs 4 Alternating Treatment Designs employ rapid phase reversals across 2 or more conditions to assess sensitivity of change in the dependent variable to change in condition.

12 Student 1 Hypothesis: Escape Math Work 1. Is Esc different than Control? 2. Is Esc different than Attn?


14 Vivian 0 20 40 60 80 100 Tammy 0 20 40 60 80 100 Dr. Cathy 20 40 60 80 100 010203040506070 Percentage of Correct Responding BL Sessions Treatment Lollipop for R+ 6 #3

15 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 15101520253035 Sessions Total SIB per minute FCTBaseline FCT 4B # 4

16 Student 1 Hypothesis: Escape Math Work 1. Is Esc different than Control? 2. Is Esc different than Attn? #5

17 17

18  Get together with at least 2 other people to discuss the readings this week.  The Bridges (2004) article discussed multicultural issues in AAC, think of their points and how they can shape the way you go about assessing students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds….and  Students from those backgrounds that require AAC

19  Assessing student’s need for AT or AAC.

20  “Communicative competence implies the ability to meet the demands of participation and communication within the culture” (p. 55).  The adequacy of one’s communication is based on having sufficient knowledge, judgment, & skills needed to convey a message to a communicative partner.  This complex behavior is learned within a cultural environment

21 1. Linguistic Competence 2. Operational Competence 3. Social Competence 4. Strategic Competence

22 AAC user needs to perform in at least two environments -Both native language & AAC codes need to be mastered -represent two different cultures -AAC user by default is bicultural and has to learn to function adequately in at least two environments.

23  Technical skills needed to operate systems used by AAC users.  Skills include: ◦ Access, transmission, and operational skills needed to reach mastery level in accuracy and speed in using a given system.  Mastery level may differ in different cultures  Evaluation of preferred operational methods and transmission modes within a culture should occur within an AAC assessment for a student  These preferences may be evaluated while assessing student strengths (e.g., person/family-centered planning)

24  Achieved when the user has the knowledge, judgment, and skill to understand and adequately function within their cultural community  Relates to knowledge of how to use language (i.e., what terminology and forms are used, at what times, and with what people) ◦ What behaviors are expected (at what times, with whom, for what purposes) ◦ What is considered appropriate decorum and dress in public & home ◦ How the culture perceives the world

25  AAC users must learn to use specific systems or strategies of communication that often differ from the verbal communication systems of the family or community  AAC users may be highly dependent on communication partners to infer meanings of messages.  Strategies for communicating AND the technology of communicating make up a communication system  AAC users must achieve competence in both

26  Communication strategies are often developed by the practitioners without adequate knowledge of the AAC user’s culture.  Providing a culturally acceptable strategic system may enhance the strategic competence while enabling the user appropriate use of the chosen technology.  What can you do to ensure a student’s culture is considered in the development of a communication system?

27  Involve the student & family every step of the way  Don’t think of assessment “on” a student, but rather “with” a student  Essential to understand student’s unique physical and sensory skills ◦ How they see, hear, move  E.g., if a student has no functional vision and does not use speech, then an alternate form of expressive communication will probably involve…..????  Use of objects, parts of objects, gestures, & manual signs

28  Define communication & identify who needs communication intervention  Identify ecological and observational approaches to determining communication skills and needs.

29  Downing, J.E. (2005)Teaching Communication Skills to Students with Severe Disabilities



32  Competence in a symbolic and language system (e.g., spoken English, manual ASL)?  Formalized rules of word representation, production, & use?  Breathing is the only real pre-requisite (Mirenda, 1993)

33  Necessary to define oneself  Share ideas, feelings  Demonstrate knowledge & skills  Socialize  Perform job & daily tasks

34  Allows control over physical & social environment  Allows for acquiring new skills (strong correlation between literacy & communication skill development for students with severe disabilities; Beukelman & Mirenda, 2005)  Allows for socially acceptable way to express feelings of frustration  Allows for development of friendships

35  Better to err on the side of assuming competence even if it is not there, rather than err on the side of assuming incompetence when competence is the case.  All individuals need to communicate

36  Students who demonstrate minimal communication skills that they are not adequately expressing themselves.  Cognitive Referencing---Many professionals still believe that for children with severe intellectual challenges communication services are irrelevant (Downing, 2005)—  Question should not be whether students will benefit from communication intervention, but how best to provide support

37  At least 2 people who understand each other  Form (i.e. a way to send the message)  Content (i.e., something to talk about)  Function: Reason/Purpose to communicate  Educational team members must ensure these are addressed

38  Students in special education classrooms tend to have interactions with adults but limited interaction with other students (Foreman et al., 2004)  What affects does this have on: learning communication, and making friends?  Foreman et al., found that students with disabilities in general education were involved in significantly higher levels of communication interactions than their matched pair in special education classrooms (2004).

39  Receptive Language: ◦ Understanding what people mean when they speak to you.  Expressive Language ◦ Being able to speak/communicate so that others understand you.

40  No one form of communication will meet all needs or all social situations  Teaching a combination of different modes is necessary ◦ Examples: Vocalization, body movements, pointing, facial expressions, nodding, gestures, use of object symbols, picture symbols, manual signs

41  Request  Initiate/greeting  Terminate  Attention  Naming  Accept/Reject ◦ Protesting situations ◦ Affirming situations  Expressing choices or preferences

42  When there is nothing to say, there is no communication (i.e. the awkward pause when run out of things to say)  Individuals with severe disabilities need to have access to a variety of objects, pictures, and photos

43  Speech ◦ Articulation, Resonance, Voice, Fluency  Language ◦ Phonology, Syntax, Semantics, Pragmatics  Conversation Skills ◦ Turn taking, content, initiation, closure

44  Receptive language deficits ◦ Cannot recall sequences of ideas presented orally ◦ Difficulty understanding humor, sarcasm, figurative language ◦ May not understand questions ◦ Trouble following directions ◦ Cannot retain information presented orally ◦ Difficulty understanding compound and complex sentences

45  Expressive Deficits ◦ Spoken language may include incorrect grammar or syntax ◦ Limited use of vocabulary ◦ Frequent hesitations/can’t find right words ◦ Difficulty discussing abstract, temporal or spatial concepts ◦ Jumps from topic to topic ◦ Afraid to ask questions, does not know what questions to ask, does not no how to ask questions.

46  Standardized Tests will not provide the information you need  Assessment driven by questions that need to be answered to help benefit from communication intervention—Team Effort  Interviews with Significant Others & Ecological- Functional Assessment Process

47 Daily/ Weekly Yearly Monthly/ Quarterly Identify Potential Communicative Acts Verify communicative functions, Analyze environmental demands Review Assessment Info Select appropriate interventions Write communication goals Select Instructional Procedures Create opportunities for comm. Implement relevant procedures Program generalization & maintenance Graph learner progress Modify procedures as necessary Expand plan as necessary Person/family-centered planning Summarize student life/learning/cultural background Identify preferences

48 Individual Student Planning Multi-disciplinary Team approach “One Voice” Involving GE, SPED, other services Review data, schedule and outline actions to better support student 1 time per/ mon. until establish success No longer than 45 minutes Agenda with action plan

49 Purpose of Assessment Clearly identify Capacity Building vs Deficit Finding Capacity Building (O’Brien & Mount, 1991) Focus on strengths and preferences Avoid use of standardized assessments that are not appropriate to a student because of physical or sensory impairments or cultural differences Use of observations & interviews

50 Deficit-finding Perspective “ Rebecca Ferguson has an IQ of 21 and a mental age of 1 year, 18 mos. Her scores on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales were below basal levels. She has Down’s syndrome and severe mental retardation. R cannot use the toilet or eat independently and will require lifelong assistance for personal care. She is nonverbal except for some random vocalizations. R sometimes engages in aggressive behavior including spitting, and slapping

51 Capacity-building perspective “Rebecca is a 16-year old girl with brown eyes and black hair who has been medically classified with Down’s syndrome. Her scores below basal levels on the Vineland and the Weschler Intelligence Scale support her ongoing eligibility for special education services. R is highly social and greets others using eye contact, smiles, a wave, and an occasional hug. She makes her needs known by moving to an area or obtaining materials (e.g, her bathing suit to go swimming). She can sign “eat” to request food. She has strong preferences is assertive….

52 Research on Ecological Assessment Arose out of dissatisfaction with failures in adapting standardized assessments for students with significant disabilities Information obtained had minimal impact on educational planning (Sigafoos et al., 1987; Blankenship, 1985; Cole et al., 1985) Ecological reports result in: Higher ratings of expected educational outcomes (Linehan & Brady, 1985) Educators more likely to recommend related services and less restrictive placements

53 Steps in Ecological Assessment Process Step 1: Plan with Student & Family Step 2: Summarize what is known about the student Step 3: Encourage Self-Determination/ Assess Student Preferences Step 4: Assess student’s instructional program Step 5: Develop ecological assessment report

54  Current communication  Environmental conditions  Motor capabilities  Cognitive/linguistic capacities  Language capacities  Literacy capacities  Sensory/perceptual capacities

55  Receptive skills for a specific activity need to be identified  What does the student do to demonstrate that the message has been received and understood?  Document what forms of communication seem to be best understood

56  Any attempt by the student to start, maintain, or end a communicative exchange should be noted.  How the students communicates (the form)—Skill level?  Why the student is communicating (function/intent)— different forms of communication for different purposes?  What the student talks about (content)—information on breadth of skills and accessibility?


58  See Communication Style Assessment— handout  Interview questions for professionals---handout

59  Practice using these interviews with a partner based on your case study OR you may use a student that you have or are working with.  Note your evaluation of using these interview questions.



62 Communication Matrix by Charity Rowland (designs to learn website) Organized by communication function List of behaviors Not used, emerging or mastered

63  Use your case study or student you know and practice using the communication matrix website with a partner.  Write your evaluation of the use of this online tool.

64  Uses observational techniques to analyze skill demands of the natural environment and determine how the student performs within the environment  Leads directly to intervention plan (Snell, 2002)

65 1. List Domains 2. List environments 3. List sub- environments 4. List activities associated with each sub environment 5. Task analyze each activity to identify skills 6. Observe the performance of the activity to identify needs

66 1. Ask: Where does the student spend time? (environment, sub-environment, activities) 2. Select Activity: (e.g., ordering food) 3. Observe: (for vocabulary used in activity)  List Expressive Vocabulary used in the activity  List Receptive Vocabulary used in the activity 4. Review listed words and determine which words & skills need to be taught to the student.

67  Where does the student spend time? ◦ Environment: Community: McDonald’s ◦ Subenvironment: McDonald’s counter area ◦ Activities: Ordering food, waiting in line, socializing in line  Select activity: Ordering Food

68  Observe vocabulary used in activity ◦ Expressive: “I want, hamburger, fish sandwich, small, medium, large, coke, milkshake, yes/no, that’s all, thank you, my order is wrong, I need, extra ketchup, for here, please repeat that, how much?” ◦ Receptive: “May I help you?, Is that all?, Here or to go?, Your order will be ready soon?, I don’t understand, Your total is_____”  Review listed words: which are above, below, and at the student’s level. Which are within or outside student’s experience, which are necessary for the task

69  Complete the communication ecological worksheet on your in-class activity.  Use only one activity in the school environment (e.g., asking to play a game at recess, participating in writing activity in language arts class)

70 Steps in Activity Natural Cues Comm. Skills Needed Student Performance Discrepancy Analysis Interv. Plan Receptive or Expressive + or -Why student isn’t doing the step sug gest ions




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