Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Christina Meyers

Second Advisor

Pui Fong Kan

Third Advisor

Sherri Tennant


The research question is: "How does the introduction of an AAC system and intervention in a bilingual child’s home language affect his use of AAC? (a) What is its effect on the child’s use of the AAC system to produce functional communication in the home setting? and (b) What is its effect on the family’s interaction with the child and the AAC system?".

This study documented data from intervention sessions with an adolescent with Down Syndrome who uses TouchChat in Spanish at home and in English at school. Intervention data was collected during each therapy session over a total of ten individual one-hour therapy sessions. Data was recorded on (a) the use of the AAC device for functional communication in Spanish at home and (b) the number of negative behaviors exhibited during a session (ie. kicking, hitting, throwing items, running/inattention to task), (c) home practice with device, and (c) parent knowledge of device.

Results show a potential transfer of linguistic and operational use from one language to another, or language transfer from L2 to L1. They also could indicate a connection and transfer of his receptive language L1 skills over to expressive L1 skills when using the AAC device. The main finding of this study is that the provision of therapy in Spanish, the home language of the participant and a language mutually spoken by the participant and SLP, seemed to constitute an effective and culturally and linguistically appropriate intervention for this participant. However, this was a case study of one individual, therefore more research is needed before conclusions can be made about bilingual AAC vocabularies and language intervention for individuals with complex communication needs.