With one in 88 children having some form of autism in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(1), the need to help autistic children overcome communication challenges is greater than ever. April is Autism Awareness Month, and today, AssistiveWare, maker of the Proloquo2Go App for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, along with Professor Anne M. Donnellan, PhD, University of San Diego, and Professor Jodi A. Robledo, PhD, of California State University at San Marcos announce timely survey findings. For people with autism who have not yet developed speech, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems can be very helpful in developing communication, language and other skills.  

Key results of more than 230 survey respondents (users, family members, caregivers and professionals using AAC apps on iOS devices) include:

  • Extended benefits of mobile AAC - 60% to 80% of the AAC users and families reported improvements in communication with others, in independence, in behavior, in the atmosphere at home, and in general well being since starting with Proloquo2Go or another full-featured AAC app.
  • Improved verbalization and speech - About 50% of the adult AAC users and over 55% of the family members and caregivers report improvement of verbalization and speech for the AAC user.
  • A gap in the training of Speech and Language Professionals - Less than 10% of adult AAC users and less than 25% of family members and caregivers of AAC users report receiving professional support to effectively implement AAC.
  • Adoption of iPad for AAC use appears to be accelerating. Close to 60% of the family members and caregivers and over 65% of the adult AAC users reported that they started working with a full-featured AAC app less than 1 year ago.
  • 90% of adult AAC users and family members of AAC users report using an iPad for communication, while over 25% also use an iPhone or iPod touch. Additionally, 15% to 20% also use a dedicated communication device.

“One of the most exciting results from the survey is that an overwhelming majority – as many as 60% to 80% of the AAC users and families – are seeing real-life benefits of this technology. Improvements not just in communication, but also in independence, behavior, atmosphere at home and general wellbeing are observed since using the Proloquo2Go App. This is a great source of inspiration,” said David Niemeijer, founder and CEO of AssistiveWare. 
“The survey reinforced what I’ve been hearing from the field – parents, teachers and Speech and Language Professionals realize that SLP’s need more training in AAC,” said Anne M. Donnellan, PhD, professor University of San Diego and Director, USD Autism Institute. “They need to know how to use these cool new devices and apps to take advantage of the potential communication benefits. I hope the American Speech and Hearing Association will lead the way again and support their members to bring even more of their language and communication expertise into the 21st century world of communication options, giving new meaning to ‘freedom of speech’.”