Self-paced online training for paraeducators to support the communication of young children with complex communication needs

Open Access
Douglas, Sarah Nathel
Graduate Program:
Special Education
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
October 03, 2011
Committee Members:
  • Dr David Mc Naughton, Dissertation Advisor
  • David Brent Mcnaughton, Committee Chair
  • Janice Catherine Light, Committee Member
  • Kathy L Ruhl, Committee Member
  • Pamela S Wolfe, Committee Member
  • augmentative communication
  • language development
  • early childhood
  • paraeducator
  • special education
  • training
Early childhood is a time of rapid language growth for typically developing children. For many children with disabilities however, the development of language and communication skills can be challenging. Paraeducators often provide educational support to children with disabilities, especially those with complex communication needs (CCN). However, research has shown that paraeducators and other communication partners often fail to engage in behaviors that promote the communication growth of individuals with CCN. Training may be required to teach paraeducators to support the communication development of children with CCN. A single subject multiple baseline probe design was utilized with three dyads (i.e., one paraeducator and one child per dyad) to measure the effect of self-paced online training for paraeducators. The paraeducators were taught a three step procedure to promote the communication development of young children with CCN: (a) provide opportunities for communication; (b) wait for the child’s communication and; (c) respond to the child’s communication. Results of the study indicated that training increased the number of communication opportunities with wait time provided by paraeducators to young children with CCN. In addition, results indicated that all children in the study increased communication turns after paraeducators participated in the online training. It was also noted that paraeducators provided an increased number of responses to child communication turns. Results, limitations, and future research directions are discussed.