Saint Joseph's University

SPE 721 Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Socialization Strategies

Explore research-based strategies to teach students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The content presented on this page is representative information for example purposes and is subject to change without notice as course and student needs change over time. For current course descriptions, please see the Online Academic Catalog.

Format: Online

Duration: 16 weeks

Credits: 3 credits

Autism is a complex disorder, with no single explanation or treatment. However, children with autism tend to have several behavior traits in common: they focus on details, interpret information in a fragmented manner, misperceive the perspectives of others and persist in one mode of thinking and behaving. Consequently, students with ASD can become self-directed and ritualized. In this course, you examine the communication and social skills deficits of a variety of students with ASD.

This course focuses on a wide range of current research and evidence-based practices in the area of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) as it is implemented to increase, improve, and maintain functional communication skills of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In addition, specific strategies and techniques to address socialization skills for individuals with ASD, as well as their communication partners, will be addressed.

Using AAC, you apply evidence-based research methods to a theoretical group of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Through in-depth discussions with your professor and fellow students, you explore techniques and strategies developed to help improve the social and communication skills of students living with deficits that have hindered their ability to function, and flourish, in a classroom setting.

As part of your coursework, you are introduced to a group of hypothetical students, all representative of those you might meet in your own classroom. All are using some form of augmentative and alternative communication, either as their primary means of communication, or to increase their understanding of the world around them. Not only will they expose you to the communication and social skills deficits found in students on the ‘spectrum’, but they also represent a wide variety of skills and levels of functioning, which is a hallmark of students on the spectrum.

Sample Course Topics  

Throughout this course, weekly topics may include:

  • Introduction and Foundation of ASD, AAC and Social Skills
  • Assessment of Social and Communication Skills
  • Designing Interventions
  • Strategies to Enhance Social and Communication Skills
  • Social Communication
  • Introduction to AAC for Individuals with ASD and AAC Assessment Issues
  • Communication Modalities
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Interventions

Examples of What You’ll Learn

When you complete SPE 721, you will be able to:

  • Understand how the triad of impairments in socialization, communication and behavior impact the lives of students on the spectrum.
  • Identify norm-referenced tests and informal assessments, their components, and their advantages and limitations.
  • Create target goals and objectives that reflect critical milestones in typical social and communication development.
  • Discuss basic principles to build social and communication competence and different treatment approaches.
  • Explain the major characteristics, prevalence, and causal factors of Asperger’s Syndrome and discuss the diagnostic process, social and emotional issues, and applicable intervention strategies.
  • Discuss the social and cognitive foundations of presymbolic communication.
  • Identify and describe current AAC interventions, their components and related research.

To learn more about the online Master of Science in Education – Special Education curriculum from Saint Joseph’s University, including Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Socialization Strategies, call (866) 758-7670 to speak with a Program Manager or request more information.

The content presented on this page is representative information for example purposes and is subject to change without notice as course and student needs change over time. For current course descriptions, please see the Online Academic Catalog.

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