Long-term outcomes for individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication: Part I – what is a “good” outcome?
Over the past 20 years, there have been many advances in the field of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Despite these advances, there are no data on the long-term outcomes of AAC interventions. This study evaluated the long-term outcomes for a group of seven young men (ages 19 – 23 years) who had used AAC systems for at least 15 years and were part of the first generation to have received AAC services since they were in preschool. Outcomes were measured in the following domains: (a) receptive language; (b) reading comprehension; (c) communicative interaction; (d) linguistic complexity; (e) functional communication; (f) educational and vocational achievement; (g) self-determination; and (h) quality of life. The outcomes for the group were diverse, with individual variations across all measures. Evaluation of the data raised many issues surrounding the challenges of outcomes measurement; these are discussed with suggestions for future research.