We suspect that some minimally verbal autistic children also have a motor speech disorder called “childhood apraxia of speech” or CAS. If this is so, does CAS treatment, appropriately modified for minimally verbal autistic children, improve their speech? Instead of being primarily drill-based, therapy will be embedded in a social, play-based context to provide ecologically valid feedback and help children generalize their skills as much as possible. We’re looking for up to 20 children with ASD and CAS, between the ages of 5 and 18, to participate.
What are the goals of the study?
This study therefore aims to test whether treatment for CAS, modified to be embedded in a social, play-based context, improves speech production for children with minimally verbal ASD and CAS.
What will happen during the visit or online?
Prospective participants will be assessed in our lab in Charlestown with a variety of measures that document their speech, language, social, and nonverbal IQ skills. During the speech tasks only (estimated to last approximately 30 minutes), children will wear reflective markers, 2-3 millimeters in size, on their faces. Our multiple camera system will track the movements of these markers as children attempt to repeat a series of syllables and simple words. Baseline assessments are conservatively estimated to last approximately 4 hours, scheduled as two 2-hour visits. All assessments will be audio- and videotaped for later analysis.
How will this help families?
Research shows that improved communication abilities are associated with fewer challenging behaviors and better long-term outcomes for children with ASD. Therefore, creating valid and effective treatments to improve their oral communication is extremely important.