Bruce Hamm & Pat Mirenda




Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Even when augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) interventions enhance the communication skills and educational achievements of students with complex communication needs while they are in school, there is no guarantee that these gains will be maintained following students' transition to adult life. Unfortunately, information on the post-school quality of life and related outcomes of individuals with complex communication needs is scarce. This study addressed this issue by examining the post-school outcomes of eight Canadian individuals with developmental disabilities who used AAC technology while they were in school. Two surveys were used to compile the data: the Quality of Life Profile: People with Physical and Sensory Disabilities (Renwick, Rudman, Raphael, & Brown, ) and a Communication Survey designed specifically for this study. Four of the participants and the people who knew them best also participated in brief interviews in which they discussed the positive and negative aspects of their school and post-school experiences. Results indicated that participant outcomes in important life domains were generally discouraging. A high positive correlation was found between quality of life and quality of communication scores, and participants who achieved relatively better outcomes showed evidence of higher communicative competence. However, the majority of participants and their supporters were very dissatisfied with the lack of AAC and other services that were available to them as young adults. The results are discussed in relation to outcomes for adults with development disabilities who use AAC and their implications for future research, practice, and advocacy efforts related to transition planning.

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