Profile of a minimally verbal autistic child (Vidal et al., 2020)

Purpose: The present clinical focus draws on an intrinsic case study to provide a thick description of the communication profile of John, a 9-year-old minimally verbal autistic student.
Method: Specifically, traditional behavioral assessments, classroom video observations, and semistructured interviews were used to gather information regarding John’s communication profile and potential sensory–motor differences.
Results: Convergent evidence indicated that John’s expressive profile was characterized by single words, emergent word combinations, some conventional gestures, and a low frequency of communicative initiations. Concomitant language comprehension challenges and poor intelligibility associated with motor speech impairment were also indicated. His sensory–motor profile was marked by fine motor impairment, relative strengths in gross motor abilities, and sensory differences across visual, hearing, and tactile modalities.
Conclusion: Direct implications for supporting minimally verbal autistic students like John include the need to (a) consider sensory–motor influences on social interaction and (b) support flexible use of multimodal communication resources, including augmentative and alternative communication.

Supplemental Material S1. Sample interview transcription, which includes time course of interactions, codes for salient gestures, paralinguistic features, eye gaze, and use of augmentative and alternative communication devices.

Vidal, V., McCallister, A., & DeThorne, L. (2020). Communication profile of a minimal verbal school-age autistic child: A case study. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2020_LSHSS-19-00021