Use of Enhanced Natural Gestures to Foster Interactions Between Children With Angelman Syndrome and Their Parents The acceptability and feasibility of a home-based gestural training program for nine children with Angelman syndrome (AS), deletion positive, and their parents were examined. Children with AS have been found to exhibit a variety of challenges, including severe communication disabilities for which different Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems have ... Research Article
Research Article  |   November 01, 2002
Use of Enhanced Natural Gestures to Foster Interactions Between Children With Angelman Syndrome and Their Parents
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Stephen N. Calculator
    University of New Hampshire, Durham
  • Contact author: Stephen N. Calculator, Dept. of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of New Hampshire, Durham 03824-3563. E-mail: stephenc@cisunix.unh.edu
Article Information
Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Research Articles
Research Article   |   November 01, 2002
Use of Enhanced Natural Gestures to Foster Interactions Between Children With Angelman Syndrome and Their Parents
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2002, Vol. 11, 340-355. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2002/039)
History: Received July 18, 2001 , Accepted November 7, 2001
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2002, Vol. 11, 340-355. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2002/039)
History: Received July 18, 2001; Accepted November 7, 2001
Web of Science® Times Cited: 18

The acceptability and feasibility of a home-based gestural training program for nine children with Angelman syndrome (AS), deletion positive, and their parents were examined. Children with AS have been found to exhibit a variety of challenges, including severe communication disabilities for which different Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems have been of limited use (Alvares & Downing, 1998). Parents in this study were taught to recognize and then enhance their children's use of natural gestures as enhanced natural gestures (ENGs). ENGs are intentional behaviors that are present in a child's motor repertoire or can be easily taught based on a child's extant motor skills. Unlike contact gestures, such as grabbing objects from partners or pulling partners toward preferred activities, ENGs do not require physical contact with entities or interactants and are readily understood by others in context.

Parents were taught to use four primary teaching techniques: environmental sabotage, mand-model, expectant delay, and molding/shaping, and then to use these techniques over a period of 16 to 18 weeks to foster their child's use of ENGs. A questionnaire Enhanced Natural Gestures-Acceptability Rating Form (ENG-ARF), was administered to sample parents' perceptions about the acceptability and feasibility of the ENG training program. With few exceptions, parents described this method as acceptable, effective, reasonable, and easy to teach others, with minor negative consequences and side effects. Implications for subsequent research are discussed.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported in part by a grant from the Angelman Syndrome Foundation. The author expresses his gratitude to the families who participated in this investigation. Their willingness to share their experiences and insights is appreciated greatly.
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