in response to questions. Later, language objectives include prepositions, pronouns, same/different and yes/no.
More contemporary behavioral approaches have developed goals for outcomes from a functional assessment. Goals and objectives are individualized, based on a child’s repertoire of communicative behaviors, teaching functional equivalents of challenging behavior, and addressing the child’s individual needs. The functional emphasis focuses on goals that affect a child’s access to choices of activities in which to participate, opportunities for social interaction, and community settings (Brown et al., 1979; Horner et al., 1990). Contemporary behavioral programs emphasize teaching communication skills so that greater access is provided to a variety of people, places and events, thereby enhancing the quality of life of children with autistic spectrum disorders.
The perspective espoused by developmentally oriented approaches has been to focus on the communicative meaning of behaviors and to target goals and objectives that enhance a child’s communicative competence by moving the child along a developmental progression (Lahey, 1988). Contemporary developmentalists begin with social-communicative goals, including gaze to regulate interaction, sharing positive affect, communicative functions, and gestural communication. Language goals are mapped onto social communication skills and are guided by a developmental framework (Greenspan and Wieder, 1997; Klinger and Dawson, 1992; Wetherby et al., 1997).
Goal-setting in an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) intervention is usually guided by a developmental perspective. Beukelman and Mirenda (1998) state that the goals of an AAC intervention are to assist individuals with severe communication disorders to become communicatively competent in the present, with the view toward meeting their future communication needs.
One major purpose of communication assessment is to document change as an outcome measure of treatment. However, most formal or standardized language assessment measures focus primarily on language form and rely on elicited responses. Because language impairments associated with autism are most apparent in social-communicative or pragmatic aspects of language, formal assessment instruments can provide information about only a limited number of aspects of communication for children with autism (Schuler et al., 1997; Prizant et al., 1997; Wetherby and Prizant, 1999). Formal language measures are especially imprecise in measuring nonverbal aspects of communication and therefore are not sufficient, particularly for low-functioning children with autism. In many