An Investigation into the Effectiveness of an Arabic AAC Solution for Minimally Verbal Children with Autism

Friday, May 13, 2016: 10:00 AM-1:30 PM
Hall A (Baltimore Convention Center)
M. Habash1, F. Alnemary2 and F. Alnemary2, (1)A Global Voice for Autism, Ottawa, ON, Canada, (2)UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Background: Despite receiving interventions, about 20-30% of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) might be unable to use spoken language as they are classified as minimally verbal1. Thus, reliance on other means of communication becomes the alternative option. Several studies reported the successful use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) methods for children with ASD. As such, AAC solutions have become very common over the past few years, particularly with the availability of many devices and application for the English-speaking people; however, there have not been any equivalent AAC solutions for their Arabic-speaking counterparts. This is primarily due to the lack of institutional or corporate development interest and the complexity of the Arabic language when it comes to using text-to-speech engines and to the many dialects used in different countries. The “Kalami” pilot project developed as an icon-based AAC solution with multiple dialect and natural language.

Objectives: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effectiveness of “Kalami” on facilitating communication, helping on developing language, and supporting positive behaviour of children with Autism in Arabic speaking families in the Middle East countries.

Methods: Ten children with minimally or non-verbal children with autism are participating in this investigation. Quantitative data collected through the application itself. Qualitative data is collected from families using weekly reporting schedule and parent survey.

Results: This is an ongoing investigation, which is expected to be complete in March 2016. Results will be published upon completion

Conclusions: The results from this study are expected to highlight the potential benefits and the challenges and barriers to bringing an Arabic AAC solution to families and their children