Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have challenges with communication, social interactions, and behavior, which can limit their functioning in school settings. They need to have functional communication skills to access the curriculum and have their needs met across all social environments. Special education teachers often experience barriers to successful implementation of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) interventions appropriate for these students. The purpose of this case study was to understand how special education teachers experience AAC intervention processes, and illuminate the conditions for effective AAC implementation. A qualitative case study was conducted using interviews from 6 credentialed special education teachers who worked with ASD students for a minimum of 2 years in a school district in a western state. Coding and thematic analysis of data from interviews and work journals was conducted using Ely's condition of change theory as a framework. Findings for teachers' perspectives of conditions needed to successfully implement an AAC intervention reflected the need for more time, resources, knowledge and skills, and investment from stakeholders. Recommendations included provision of resources to special education teachers for autism specific materials, on-going autism specific training and assistance, additional time for preparation and related duties necessary for working with these students. Future research on overall strengthening of AAC interventions and overcoming challenges for change is needed. Results of this study might assist schools in empowering ASD students by facilitating their functional communication skills, involvement, learning and academic opportunities across social environments.