Social interactions of students with disabilities who use augmentative and alternative communication in inclusive classrooms
The purpose of this study was to explore the naturally occurring social interactions for students with disabilities who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) in general education classrooms. We observed 16 students who used AAC and received services under the categories of autism or intellectual disability. Participants primarily interacted with their support personnel and infrequently conversed with peers despite often being in close proximity. Few interaction episodes were initiated by students who used AAC, and initiations to peers and adults appeared to serve somewhat different functions. Students with disabilities relied more heavily on facial expressions and gestures than on the use of their AAC devices. Recommendations for promoting interaction opportunities among students are offered, and future research directions are suggested.