Examining Music as a Tool for Facilitating the Use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication for Students with Multiple Disabilities Including Extensive Intellectual Disabilities, Orthopedic Impairments, and Visual Impairments: A Case Story

Evidence-based practices in education are widely researched and becoming more and more prevalent in classrooms across the country. But what about our students with more extensive and complex support needs? This study employs a multiple baseline single-case research design to examine the impact of individualizing a student’s augmentative and alternative communication system. The investigation focuses on a six-year-old student named Sam who has multiple disabilities including an intellectual disability, an orthopedic impairment, and a visual impairment and whose dominant Multiple Intelligences strength is musical/rhythmic intelligence. A multiple probe design across behaviors was used to examine the effect music-based interventions could have on Sam’s independent engagement with their communication switches using systematic, least- to most-restrictive prompting. The results indicate a trend toward greater independence following the introduction of music to each communication switch. Limitations and suggestions for future investigations are provided.