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Augment Altern Commun. 2010 Sep;26(3):191-202. doi: 10.3109/07434618.2010.505607.

An analysis of reading and spelling abilities of children using AAC: Understanding a continuum of competence.

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University of Gothenburg, Sweden.


The over-representation of reading and spelling difficulties in children with complex communication needs has been well documented. However, most of the studies reported have indicated that at least some children using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can achieve and demonstrate effective literacy skills, highlighting the heterogeneity of this group. This paper presents findings from a cross-linguistic study of 14 Swedish and 14 Irish children with cerebral palsy who use AAC, outlining their performance on a range of phonological awareness, reading, and spelling tasks developed for the purposes of the study. All participants were referred to the study as functioning in the average range of intellectual ability. Of the 28 participants, eight were classified as good readers, on the basis of their success on tasks involving connected text; while 10 presented with single-word reading skills; and 10 were categorized as non-readers. This paper explores the similarities and differences within and across these groups, in terms of associated skills and experiences. While analyses of group data suggests some common abilities and difficulties, exploration of individual profiles highlights the heterogeneity of the participants' profiles, suggesting a need for detailed individual assessment and interventions.

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