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Use of Technology to Support Independent Spelling by Students with Autism

Blischak, Doreen M. PhD; Schlosser, Ralf W. PhD

Original Article

For individuals with little or no functional speech, the ability to spell is critical in generating spontaneous, novel utterances. The purpose of this article is to discuss evidence regarding the role of speech-generating devices (SGDs) and talking word processing software in supporting independent spelling in children with autism. Implications for understanding the learning characteristics of children with autism and discussion regarding practice and future research are derived.

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida (Dr. Blischak); and the Department of Speech-Language Pathology, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts (Dr. Schlosser)

Corresponding author: Ralf W. Schlosser, PhD, Associate Professor, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Northeastern University, 151B Forsyth, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115; E-mail:

This article was made possible through a grant to the co-authors, entitled “Improving spelling in non-speaking children with developmental disabilities through VOCAs and Talking Word Processors,” by the Department of Education under the Steppingstones of Technology Innovation competition (CFDA 84.327A) and the Distinguished Switzer Fellowship (H133F010010) to the first author from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. Portions of the research underlying this article were presented at the November 2002 Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, held in New Orleans as part of the panel, entitled “Literacy intervention approaches for AAC users with autism.” Many thanks to Dale Hoidalen for her assistance in data analysis and to Drs. Jan Bedrosian and David Koppenhaver for organizing this special issue.

DECtalk® is a speech synthesizer originally developed by Digital Equipment Corporation, now available in many speech-generating devices.

The LightWRITER-SL35™ is manufactured by Toby Churchill, Cambridge, United Kingdom, It is distributed in the United States by ZYGO Industries, Portland, OR,

© 2003Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins