Year of Publication

2012

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Health Sciences

Department

Communication Disorders

First Advisor

Dr. Judith Page

Abstract

Children with autism spectrum disorders typically experience language deficits in multiple areas, including form, content, and use. These children often receive speech therapy with individual sessions (one child and clinician), group sessions (several children), or a combination of both. Although research has deemed individual therapy successful, there is still debate regarding the success of group therapy, and there is virtually no literature examining a comparison between individual and group therapy. The current case-study investigated the relative effectiveness of individual versus group therapy for one six-year-old female with moderate autism spectrum disorder. The child underwent ten alternating therapy sessions of similar structure with consistent language targets during one academic semester. All sessions were transcribed using Systematic Analysis of Language Transcripts (SALT) conventions, and analyzed via the SALT program and Microsoft Excel t-tests. Results indicate that individual sessions yielded larger improvement with syntax and semantics, while group sessions produced greater progress with pragmatics and social skills, suggesting that a combination of both therapy types may be most beneficial. Social validation of group therapy also signified high parent satisfaction with overall growth during the semester. Implications of this study, as well as recommendations for future research and clinical practice are discussed.

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