Date of Award

Spring 3-25-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Dawn Hunter

Second Advisor

Dr. Judy Montgomery

Third Advisor

Dr. Kelly Kennedy

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Ostergren


This dissertation discusses the convergence of aided augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems, the language acquisition and development of young children who are minimally verbal or nonverbal who acquire their native language while simultaneously learning to use an aided AAC system, and explicit and implicit elements that influence language outcomes. Factors investigated include those related to language acquisition universals, the AAC system, the young aided AAC user, and practices, philosophies, and beliefs of speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Further examined were: (a) language acquisition parallels in atypical populations who do not possess the full range of senses who have been shown to develop language, and (b) analogies between the linguistic structures of pidgins, interlanguages, and the syntax of young aided AAC users. This dissertation employed a survey methodology to capture the practices and beliefs of SLPs as a means of identifying potential contributing factors to the reduced linguistic outcomes of these children. Quantitative findings revealed statistically significant differences in SLPs’ perceptions of confidence and qualification with the two populations of children with language impairments who use an oral modality and young aided AAC users. Descriptive trends across all constructs measured suggested differences in SLPs’ practices, belifes, and perspectives in their work with these two populations. The analysis of the syntactic structures of the language of young aided AAC users revealed definitive parallels with the construct of interlanguages.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Thursday, March 25, 2021