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EBP Compendium: Summary of Systematic Review

The Impact of Augmentative and Alternative Communication Intervention on the Speech Production of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities: A Research Review

Millar, D. C., Light, J. C., et al. (2006).
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research , 49(2), 248-264.

Indicators of Review Quality:

The review addresses a clearly focused question No
Criteria for inclusion of studies are provided Yes
Search strategy is described in sufficient detail for replication Yes
Included studies are assessed for study quality Yes
Quality assessments are reproducible Yes

Description: This is a meta-analysis of studies investigating the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) on the speech production of individuals with developmental disabilities including mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy and other disabilities. 

Question(s) Addressed:

Question not specifically stated.

Population: Individuals with developmental disabilities who had significant speech impairments (ages ranged from 2 to 60 years). 31% with autism, 40% with mental retardation, 29% with other disabilites such as Klinefelter's syndrome and cerebral palsy.

Intervention/Assessment: Augmentative/alternative communication

Number of Studies Included: 23

Years Included: 1975 - 2003



  • Treatment
    • Speech and Language
      • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
        • "The present research review provides important preliminary evidence that AAC interventions do not inhibit speech production; instead, AAC may also support speech production" (p. 259).
        • The positive effects were observed across a wide age span (2–60 years of age) suggesting that “speech gains may still be realized by individuals with developmental disabilities well past the critical early childhood years” (p. 257).
        • The positive effects of AAC on speech were noted across different instructional approaches including highly-structured clinician-directed behavioral approaches and child-centered.

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorders, Congenital Disorders, Intellectual Disabilities, Cerebral Palsy, Developmental Disorders, Dysarthria, Augmentative and Alternative Communication

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Added to Compendium: March 2012

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