Talkii – a speech-generating device changing the social and verbal behaviour of children with autism spectrum disorder. A mixed-methods case study from Luxembourg
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Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience several significant impairments, including, in most cases, severe communication deficits and difficulties developing functional language. This can cause challenging behaviours, including self-injuring behaviour, aggression and frustration, due to the inability to express themselves. Nevertheless, students with language impairments can benefit from augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems to help them express their needs and desires. This study focuses on Talkii, a recognised AAC speech-generating device that has been developed in Luxembourg. Through a combination of observations of five students with ASD who use Talkii and seven semi-structured interviews with teachers and speech therapists who supervise these students, this study evaluated the effects this device has on the social and verbal behaviour of students with ASD and whether Talkii can enhance their communication skills. The results show that Talkii is effective in teaching students with ASD a functional verbal behaviour, including the five verbal operants mand, tact, echoic, autoclitic and intraverbal. Besides, findings regarding changes to the social and verbal behaviour of students with ASD indicate decreases in aggression and self-injuring behaviour as well as an increase in happiness, self-regulation and development of the personality. These findings highlight that Talkii appears as a good alternative when considering the use of a speech-generating device to support children that experience communication impairments.