Teaching prelinguistic communication skills to school age children with autism
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Prelinguistic Milieu Teaching (PMT) is an intervention designed to teach young children to initiate nonverbal communication using vocalizations, gestures, and eye-gaze. Children are taught through social routines in their natural environment. Techniques include contriving an environment in which the children will be motivated to communicate and using a hierarchy of prompting and modeling to evoke the desired communicative behaviors, such as requesting and commenting. PMT has been previously studied in young children (ages 1-5) with developmental delays. In this study, it is implemented with six school-age children with Autism (ages 5-8). A multiple baseline design across participants was used to evaluate the effects of the intervention on the variables of frequency, clarity, and maintenance of the participants’ communication. All six participants showed increases in the targeted prelinguistic communication skills during treatment and maintained the increases during follow-up. Analysis of individual behavioral profiles was helpful for disambiguating individual differences in response to intervention across the three variables. Future research should target generalization of learned behaviors across implementers and settings.