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Augment Altern Commun. 2009;25(3):187-201. doi: 10.1080/07434610903031133.

Iconicity in the development of picture skills: typical development and implications for individuals with severe intellectual disabilities.

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  • 1Macquarie University Special Education Centre, Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia.


The iconicity of graphic symbols and the iconicity hypothesis are theoretical concepts that have had an impact on the use of augmentative and alternative communication strategies for people with severe intellectual disabilities. This article reviews some of the recent literature on the impact of iconicity on symbol recognition and use by typically developing children and relates those findings to people with severe disability. It seems that although iconicity may have some impact on symbol learning, there are other variables that are likely to be much more important. It is likely that iconicity is not helpful to those learning graphic symbols who have little or no comprehension of spoken language.

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