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Minimally Verbal/Non-Speaking Individuals With Autism: Research Directions for Interventions to Promote Language and Communication - Agenda

January 24-25, 2023
Virtual Workshop


January 24, 2023, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. Eastern

Watch on the NIH videocast website.

Introduction and purpose
Judith Cooper, Deputy Director, NIDCD

Introductory roundtable: Challenges and opportunities
What single research question on intervention to improve language outcomes for minimally verbal/non-speaking individuals with autism would you like to see addressed/answered?

Panel of stakeholder perspectives

  • Grant Blasko (self-advocate, college student)
  • Matthew Belmonte (sibling, researcher)
  • Eliane Lazar-Wesley (parent)
  • John Robison (self-advocate, visiting scholar)
  • Jasmine Urquhart Gillis (speech-language pathologist, certified behavior analyst)
  • Zachary Williams (self-advocate, M.D./Ph.D. student)
  • Jennifer Kent-Walsh (speech-language pathologist, clinical researcher)
  • Stephen Shore (self-advocate, special education professor)

Overview of research: How far have we come since the workshop held in 2010?
Helen Tager-Flusberg (co-chair)

Session 1: Novel intervention approaches for minimally verbal/non-speaking individuals

Overview of interventions: Learning from our past to build the future
Connie Kasari (co-chair)

  1. Intervention approaches: Children and adolescents with autism
    1. Janice Light: Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) intervention to build communication, language, and literacy skills with children on the autism spectrum
    2. Karen Chenausky: Speech therapy for minimally verbal autistic children: Where are we?
    3. Kathy Thiemann-Bourque: Peer-mediated interventions for children with autism: Novel AAC approaches that work in natural environments
    4. David McNaughton: AAC intervention to enhance communication and participation in community settings for adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum
  2. Intervention approaches: Learning from extensions to adults with acquired AAC needs
    1. Melanie Fried-Oken: Brain-computer interface: A new intervention for the access needs of adults who experience severe speech and motor challenges
    2. Sarah Wallace: AAC strategies for adults with aphasia
  3. Clinical/stakeholder commentary: Child and adult interventions
    • Denise Lombardi and son RJ (parent and independent typer)
    • Howard Shane (speech-language pathologist, researcher)
    • Alison Singer (parent, president of the Autism Science Foundation)
  4. Open discussion


January 25, 2023, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. Eastern

Watch on the NIH videocast website.

Session 2: Research designs/methods for intervention studies

Overview: The future: Combined treatments
Larry Scahill: Overview

  1. Speakers
    1. Daniel Almirall: Multilevel adaptive interventions: Optimizing how we tailor intervention to the unique and changing needs of each individual and their environment
    2. J. Birdie Ganz: Rigorous reporting in single-case experiments on AAC interventions for minimally verbal/non-speaking people with autism
  2. Commentary
    1. Stephen Camarata (speech-language pathologist, researcher)
    2. Amy Lutz (parent, social scientist)
  3. Open discussion

Session 3: Meaningful outcome measures

Overview: Research perspectives on developing meaningful outcome measures
Cathy Lord

  1. Speakers
    1. Vanessa H. Bal: Emotional health and well-being as an outcome and indicator of intervention success
    2. Frederick Shic: Eye-tracking outcome measures for minimally verbal populations
    3. Nancy Brady: Measuring short- and long-term communication outcomes
  2. Commentary
    • Leonard Abbeduto (researcher)

Session 4: Reflections on the workshop for nonspeaking individuals—research opportunities and possibilities

Vikram Jaswal (researcher) with Grant Blasko, Jordyn Zimmerman

Session 5: Summary of research opportunities and possible next steps

Led by Connie Kasari and Helen Tager-Flusberg

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