Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis


Communication Sciences & Disorders


This study involved a) a detailed analysis of current research regarding speech perception in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), b) a literature review on current approaches to therapy for children with ASD, and c) a series of observations in clinic and school settings. Observations were made at the Independence Academy and Riley Children's Hospital. The review of current research showed that while children with ASD are less influenced by visual cues than typically developing children, they still benefit from the addition of visual cues to speech perception and do not lack auditory-visual integration skills. Two approaches to therapy, the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and the Developmental, Individual Difference Relationship-Based Model (DIR), have been described in the literature to be beneficial when working with children with ASD. PECS has been shown to encourage speech in children, and DIR is developmentally based, created for the individual, and focuses on relationships. Both approaches to therapy have been shown to improve communication in children with ASD. Riley Children's Hospital administered PECS; however, neither observation site administered DIR. The clinical observations showed how therapy can be administered under auditory-visual conditions for children across the spectrum, even in different environments and with differently structured therapy sessions.