ERIC Number: ED177837
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978
Reference Count: 0
Nonvocal Communication for Norverbal Retarded Children. Final Report.
Deich, Ruth F.; Hodges, Patricia M.
Twenty-eight moderately and profoundly retarded children (9 to 17 years old) on one unit of a center for the developmentally disabled were taught a nonvocal symbol system based on that developed by D. Premack. Children varied in speech level from totally nonverbal to some who had simple language skills. The symbol system used a behavioral approach involving plastic shapes to represent words of varying degrees of abstractness. A prior pilot study (N=8) had shown that retarded Ss could learn such a nonvocal system. The present study showed that this larger group could also learn, although rate of learning was considerably slower, and amount learned was lower, when Ss' mental ages were at 2 years or below. Twenty-five slow learners with mean mental age of 1.9 learned an average of 10 words over a 6 month training period. Of this group, 13 also learned one and two word sentences, involving verbs. Three fast learners, with mean mental ages about 6 years, learned significantly more words and also combined these words into sentences up to nine words long. Matched control groups of 10 Ss each, on the same and different units, were given equal time, one-to-one interaction, and the opportunity to manipulate analogous material. Neither control nor training groups showed differences pre- and posttraining on IQ, MA, or vocalization. However, attention span increased significantly for the training group and decreased significantly for the controls. It was concluded that although there were wide individual differences in learning rate and amount, a nonvocal symbol system can be helpful to permit at least minimal communication where no other mode exists and no other approaches have been feasible. (Author)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Institute for Research in Human Growth, Claremont, CA.; California Univ., Los Angeles. Dept. of Psychology.