Effect of video VSDS on the communicative turns of preschoolers with ASD (Chapin et al., 2021)

Chapin, S.E., McNaughton, D., Light, J., McCoy, A., Caron, J., Lee, D.L. (2021). The effects of AAC video visual scene display technology on the communicative turns of preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder. Assistive Technology, Advance online publication (Full text available)

Over 40% of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) experience difficulty in using speech. Many children with ASD enjoy watching videos, however typically this is a solitary activity with minimal interaction with others.

AAC intervention for beginning communicators must incorporate the interests of the child, and provide a foundation for learning more sophisticated communication skills. This research investigated new ways to embed communication supports into a preferred activity for many children – watching videos.

In a visual scene display (VSD) approach, photos of a meaningful event are programmed on a tablet computer with vocabulary hotspots; when touched, the hotspot produces speech output. 

In a video VSD intervention, the communication partner captures videos of preferred activities (e.g., a YouTube video of a construction site); pauses the video at key junctures to automatically create a VSD; and adds vocabulary as hotspots (with speech and/or text output when activated) to support communication.

When the video pauses to show a VSD, the child can touch the hotspot to take a turn and communicate about the image. By using videos of interest to the child, we can convert what is often a solitary activity ( i.e., watching videos) into a rich interaction opportunity.

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Chapin and colleagues investigated the use of video VSDs with young children with ASD. First, during baseline, they investigated the types of interaction that might typically take place. While watching a video with the child, they paused the video, pointed to and labelled an image, and asked the child what they saw. Typically the child did not respond. In baseline, without a way for the child to take turns within the activity, very little interaction occurs between the adult and the child.

Next, during intervention, the interventionist played videos that included the video VSD feature. The video would pause when a VSD appeared. At this time, the adult would model taking a turn by touching a hotspot, and pause again. You will see in the video that the child immediately takes a communicative turn, after the model provided by the adult. After the hotspot produces speech, the video continues to play, until the next hotspot.

In fact , all three children immediately took more turns following the introduction of the video VSDs. The use of video VSDs supported the creation of an interactive activity – using hotspots to take communicative turns while watching the video. This activity can easily be used to help children learn to take turns within an interaction, an important goal for beginning communicators. This activity also provides a fun and motivating introduction to the use of VSDs a way to access vocabulary and communicate with others.

The use of video VSDs, which provide embedded communication supports during video watching (a highly preferred activity for many children with ASD), is a promising approach to supporting social interaction and communication for beginning communicators with ASD. (Chapin et al., 2021)

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