Dr Laura Roche

Dr Laura Roche

Lecturer

School of Education

Every child’s learning style is unique

Dr Laura Roche is committed to developing personalised, evidence-based interventions to help young people with neurodevelopmental disorders learn, communicate and flourish within society.

Laura Roche at Callaghan campus

Dr Laura Roche advocates a strengths-based approach to learning for children and youth with neurodevelopmental disorders. Her work is focused on improving the way young people with disorders such as autism communicate with others and navigate their world, starting with acknowledging their existing abilities, understanding their needs, and working in close collaboration with their families to implement evidence-based interventions.

“Children with neurodevelopmental disorders often miss out on developing meaningful social relationships, expressing themselves, or even asking for something they want,” explains Laura.

“This can be stressful for families and can result in the child developing problem behaviours to have their needs met, causing even greater stress, and reducing the whole family’s quality of life.

“My research seeks to empower these children by providing them with alternative ways to achieve basic adaptive behaviour skills, subsequently increasing their quality of life, reducing their reliance upon maladaptive behaviours, and creating opportunities for them to become active members of their communities.”

Strong beginnings and global partnerships

With a background in neuroscience, Laura’s research trajectory was kick-started by her fascination with how the human brain works, and what happens when it doesn’t work quite like it should.

“Neurodevelopment is such a complex and precise process. Everything needs to happen at exactly the right time. When I first ventured into research, I wanted to understand how we learn to communicate and why communication is so important.”

After completing further studies in neuroscience and psychology, Laura took up a post as a research assistant with Professor Jeff Sigafoos from the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, a pioneer in the field of communication intervention for children with autism. They have maintained a strong research partnership ever since, which has resulted in the continuation of publications within international high-impact scientific journals and plans for many more research papers to come.

“Prof Sigafoos helped to shape my understanding of early communicative behaviours, enabled me to work with a diverse range of children with complex communication needs and developmental disabilities, and gave me the opportunity to progress in my early career.”

Today, Laura’s research findings are contributing to a growing evidence-base on how to support children with learning difficulties, and highlight the benefits of working with children individually, as well as with their family, to tailor interventions that can then be replicated at home or elsewhere.

“Every child is different, and every child requires a different approach to learning. I show parents how to successfully implement effective procedures at home, creating a family-centred approach to intervention, empowering the parents to continue enhancing their child’s skills.

“I feel a sense of pride when a child exceeds the expectations placed on them. Whether this be from the parents, family members, or the child’s teachers.”

Researching rare neurodevelopmental disorders

After moving to Australia, Laura spent time working at the University of Queensland’s Centre for Children’s Health Research, where she gained invaluable insight into the lived experiences of families who have a young child with a rare neurodevelopmental disorder. Although this cohort often require specialised communication intervention—as their diagnoses result in complex learning and health issues—they can all too frequently miss out on receiving much-needed learning support.

“Some children are ‘written off’ from instructional tasks as some consider these children to be difficult to teach due to their complex disabilities. It can be hard to find effective ways to teach them meaningful skills.”

This firsthand knowledge of families’ challenges set Laura in good stead for her current role within the University of Newcastle School of Education and Arts’ Special Education Team. In collaboration with other talented researchers, Laura began to investigate new methods to enhance the communication skills of children with rare neurodevelopmental disorders living in the local Hunter region.

“My research includes supporting children with complex communication needs by identifying effective teaching strategies that can help create opportunities for these children to experience real success. It is very challenging, however, there is evidence that intervention approaches used in different populations may be useful for these children, and I’m excited to research this further.

For children of every ability, Laura is quick to point out that interventions must be individually tailored. Every child is different, and no one intervention should ever be applied generally or expected to be a quick fix.

“I am really interested in why something doesn’t work for some children, and the best ways we can quickly adapt our instruction or teaching methods to suit every individual learner.”

Supporting university students with autism

Along with investigating rare neurodevelopmental disorders, Laura has recently launched a new study aimed at better understanding the impact of autism on university students’ sleep and anxiety. The study will survey students on the autism spectrum disorder to determine how society can better support them both during their studies and after graduation.

“Research in Australia indicates that adults on the autism spectrum are not receiving enough support once they leave high school.

“Therefore, identifying how their sleep and mental health impacts upon their university experiences may inform specific support strategies, and could greatly impact upon these students’ quality of life.”

Across all her work, Laura shows steadfast dedication to education and research excellence. Her work is helping to develop better support strategies for young people, helping to provide our next generation—and their families—with practical solutions, encouragement and hope.

“Our society is only as strong as our most vulnerable members. We must support and enhance the quality of life of our children with the most severe and complex disabilities to become a stronger society. Every child has the right to learn and experience success.”

Every child’s learning style is unique

Dr Laura Roche is committed to developing personalised, evidence-based interventions to help young people with neurodevelopmental disorders learn, communicate and flourish within society.

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Career Summary

Biography

Laura Roche completed her Undergraduate studies in Neuroscience and Psychology at Otago University, and her Masters and PhD at Victoria University in Wellington, Aotearoa (New Zealand). 

Previously Laura has worked as a research fellow in Austria at the Medical University of Graz where her research focused on identifying the early signs of rare genetic disorders in children. More recently, Laura has worked with the Autism Centre of Excellence at Griffith University as a research fellow, looking at the priorities of the autism community for future research, and has completed a 1 year clinical Post-Doctorate fellowship at Queensland University working with the esteemed specialised pediatrician Helen Heussler.  

Laura's passion for research stems from her studies of developmental Neuro-psychology, where she found the development of communication skills in young children fascinating. She is also interested in how important early intervention in communication is for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities, and how to best support parents of children with such disabilities to access tailored intervention and information.  

Laura's research focus is directed towards evidence-based practice to enhance the adaptive skills of children with neurodevelopmental disorders. In her current research, she applies behavioural principles to enhance the communication and social skills of minimally verbal learners with rare neurodevelopmental disorders. Her work in this field has resulted in several publications within peer reviewed international journals.  
Laura is involved in collaborative research projects that evaluate the adaptive behaviour skills of children with Angelman syndrome, the impact of anxiety and sleep issues for Autistic University students, and methods of enhancing verbal communication skills in young people with 22q11. Deletion Syndrome. She has also been involved in research that investigates the use of behavioural interventions in children with rare neurodevelopmental disorders who experience sleep issues, and the priorities of parents of children with rare genetic disorders.     

 

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Wellington
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Education & Professional Development, University of Wellington
  • Master of Educaton, University of Wellington

Keywords

  • 22q11.2 deletion syndrome
  • Adaptive behaviour
  • Angelman Syndrome
  • Autism spectrum
  • Behavioural intervention
  • Communication
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders

Languages

  • English (Mother)

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
310511 Neurogenetics 25
390411 Special education and disability 50
520101 Child and adolescent development 25

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Education
Australia

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/4/2019 - 3/1/2020 Post Doctorate Research Fellow

Research fellow at the Centre for Children's Health Research at the University of Queensland 

The University of Queensland
Medicine
Australia
4/3/2019 - 13/12/2019 Research fellow

Research fellow at the Autism Centre of Excellence (ACE) within the School of Education 

Griffith University
Australia
4/9/2017 - 4/12/2017 Research Fellow

Research fellow working with the Interdisciplinary Developmental Neuroscience (iDN) research team investigating the early vocal behaviours of children later diagnosed with rare neurodevelopmental disorders. 

Medical University of Graz
Institute of Physiology, Division of Phoniatrics
Austria
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Chapter (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2021 Roche L, Sigafoos J, 'Instructional Strategies for People with Profound Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities: Overview of Approaches and Two Case Studies', Assistive Technologies for Assessment and Recovery of Neurological Impairments, IGI GLOBAL, Pennsylvania, USA (2021)
2021 Sigafoos J, Roche L, Tait K, 'Challenges in Providing AAC Intervention to People with Profound Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities', Augmentative and Alternative Communication Challenges and Solutions, Plural Publishing, San Diego 229-252 (2021)

Journal article (22 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2021 Roche L, Tones M, Williams MG, Cross M, Simons C, Heussler H, 'Caregivers Report on the Pathway to a Formal Diagnosis of Angelman Syndrome: A Comparison Across Genetic Etiologies within the Global Angelman Syndrome Registry', Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 5 193-203 (2021) [C1]

Objectives: Angelman syndrome (AS) and is typically diagnosed in children under the age of three based upon early behavioural concerns identified by parents, or genetic links with... [more]

Objectives: Angelman syndrome (AS) and is typically diagnosed in children under the age of three based upon early behavioural concerns identified by parents, or genetic links with other family members. For some families however, the pathway to diagnosis is not so clear, particularly when children demonstrate differential characteristics, commonly seen for those with UBE3A pathogenic variants (ubiquitin protein ligase EA3), imprinting defects or uniparental disomy (patUPD) etiology. The aim of this paper is to explore parent¿s experiences of the pathway to diagnosis involving 394 children with formal diagnoses of AS. Methods: Data from the Global Angelman Syndrome Registry on the age of formal diagnosis, the process involved in formal diagnosis, professionals involved in the diagnosis, the number of tests taken and the prevalence of misdiagnoses were compared across deletion and non-deletion (UBE3A pathogenic variant, imprinting and patUPD) etiologies. Results: Compared to those with deletion etiology, individuals with non-deletions are more likely to (a) receive a diagnosis later in childhood (i.e., past the age of 3 years old), (b) have a greater number of professionals and tests involved and (c) to be misdiagnosed with global developmental delay. Conclusions: The methods identified for formal diagnoses mirrored the current advances in technology and accessibility. The benefit of using parental report from registries to understand the diagnostic process and promote early and accurate diagnosis of AS is discussed.

DOI 10.1007/s41252-021-00195-w
2021 Sigafoos J, Roche L, O Reilly MF, Lancioni GE, 'Persistence of Primitive Reflexes in Developmental Disorders', Current Developmental Disorders Reports, 8 98-105 (2021)

Purpose of Review: Neonates present with a number of primitive reflexes that typically dissipate in later infancy. Persistence of such reflexes past infancy could indicate some ty... [more]

Purpose of Review: Neonates present with a number of primitive reflexes that typically dissipate in later infancy. Persistence of such reflexes past infancy could indicate some type of developmental problem or compromised neurology and therefore might be predictably associated with various types of developmental disorders. The present review sought to summarize key studies investigating the persistence of primitive reflexes in individuals with cerebral palsy, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and other developmental disorders. Recent Findings: Several studies have shown persistence of primitive reflexes in children with cerebral palsy, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and autism spectrum disorder. Persistence of primitive reflexes varies in relation to the type and severity of symptoms in cases of cerebral palsy and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and with the presence of comorbid intellectual disability in children with autism spectrum disorder. Primitive reflexes have also been shown to persist in adults with Down syndrome. Summary: Assessing primitive reflexes may be useful for advancing the understanding and early detection of developmental disorders. Additional research should seek to clarify the relation between the persistence of primitive reflexes and the type and severity of developmental disorders, as well as seeking to identify possible reflex phenotypes. Persistence of primitive reflexes might signal some type of developmental or neurological problem and may negatively impact motor development and learning. Evidence-based interventions to address the persistence of primitive reflexes are lacking, and the development of these should be a research priority.

DOI 10.1007/s40474-021-00232-2
Citations Scopus - 1
2021 Roche L, Adams D, Clark M, 'Research priorities of the autism community: A systematic review of key stakeholder perspectives', AUTISM, 25 336-348 (2021)
DOI 10.1177/1362361320967790
Citations Scopus - 3Web of Science - 3
2020 Roche L, Sigafoos J, Trembath D, 'Augmentative and Alternative Communication Intervention for People With Angelman Syndrome: a Systematic Review', Current Developmental Disorders Reports, 7 28-34 (2020) [C1]
DOI 10.1007/s40474-020-00187-w
Citations Scopus - 5
2020 Roche L, Arthur-Kelly M, 'Positive outcomes in work-related social interaction skills using textual prompts for young adults with autism', Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention, 14 243-247 (2020)
DOI 10.1080/17489539.2020.1853825
Co-authors Michael Arthur-Kelly
2020 Roche L, Campbell L, Heussler H, 'Communication in 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome: a Brief Overview of the Profile, Intervention Approaches, and Future Considerations', Current Developmental Disorders Reports, 7 124-129 (2020) [C1]

Purpose of Brief Review: 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS) is a micro-deletion disorder with a heterogenous complex presentation including significant communication difficulti... [more]

Purpose of Brief Review: 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS) is a micro-deletion disorder with a heterogenous complex presentation including significant communication difficulties. This brief review discusses the communication profile and potential approaches to enhancing communication skills for these learners. Recent Findings: The communication profile of 22q11.2DS has been described in several studies identifying early assessment, monitoring, and on-going language interventions as best practice for those with 22q11.2DS. However, few studies have reported on empirical findings of specific interventions to enhance the communicative skills of learners with 22q11.2DS. Summary: The distinct communication profile of individuals with 22q11.2DS offers researchers and practitioners an opportunity to develop tailored interventions to support effective communication skills for learners with 22q11.2DS. This review recommends that, in addition to existing interventions, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) should be evaluated to (a) support early expressive communication for children and (b) support socio-communication strategies for older learners with 22q11.2DS.

DOI 10.1007/s40474-020-00208-8
Co-authors Linda E Campbell
2020 Adams D, Roche L, Heussler H, 'Parent perceptions, beliefs, and fears around genetic treatments and cures for children with Angelman syndrome', AMERICAN JOURNAL OF MEDICAL GENETICS PART A, 182 1716-1724 (2020)
DOI 10.1002/ajmg.a.61631
Citations Scopus - 3Web of Science - 3
2019 Roche L, Carnett A, Sigafoos J, Stevens M, O'Reilly MF, Lancioni GE, Marschik PB, 'Using a Textual Prompt to Teach Multiword Requesting to Two Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder', BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION, 43 819-840 (2019)
DOI 10.1177/0145445519850745
Citations Scopus - 2Web of Science - 1
2019 McLay L, Roche L, France KG, Blampied NM, Lang R, France M, Busch C, 'Systematic review of the effectiveness of behaviorally-based interventions for sleep problems in people with rare genetic neurodevelopmental disorders', SLEEP MEDICINE REVIEWS, 46 54-63 (2019)
DOI 10.1016/j.smrv.2019.04.004
Citations Scopus - 4Web of Science - 4
2018 Sigafoos J, Roche L, Stevens M, Waddington H, Carnett A, van der Meer L, et al., 'Teaching two children with autism spectrum disorder to use a speech-generating device', RESEARCH AND PRACTICE IN INTELLECTUAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES, 5 75-86 (2018)
DOI 10.1080/23297018.2018.1447391
Citations Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1
2018 Roche L, Zhang D, Bartl-Pokorny KD, Pokorny FB, Schuller BW, Esposito G, et al., 'Early Vocal Development in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Rett Syndrome, and Fragile X Syndrome: Insights from Studies using Retrospective Video Analysis.', Adv Neurodev Disord, 2 49-61 (2018)
DOI 10.1007/s41252-017-0051-3
Citations Scopus - 15
2018 Zhang D, Roche L, Bartl-Pokorny KD, Krieber M, McLay L, Bölte S, et al., 'Response to name and its value for the early detection of developmental disorders: Insights from autism spectrum disorder, Rett syndrome, and fragile X syndrome. A perspectives paper', Research in Developmental Disabilities, 82 95-108 (2018)

Background: Responding to one's own name (RtN) has been reported as atypical in children with developmental disorders, yet comparative studies on RtN across syndromes are rar... [more]

Background: Responding to one's own name (RtN) has been reported as atypical in children with developmental disorders, yet comparative studies on RtN across syndromes are rare. Aims: We aim to (a) overview the literature on RtN in different developmental disorders during the first 24 months of life, and (b) report comparative data on RtN across syndromes. Methods and procedures: In Part 1, a literature search, focusing on RtN in children during the first 24 months of life with developmental disorders, identified 23 relevant studies. In Part 2, RtN was assessed utilizing retrospective video analysis for infants later diagnosed with ASD, RTT, or FXS, and typically developing peers. Outcomes and results: Given a variety of methodologies and instruments applied to assess RtN, 21/23 studies identified RtN as atypical in infants with a developmental disorder. We observed four different developmental trajectories of RtN in ASD, RTT, PSV, and FXS from 9 to 24 months of age. Between-group differences became more distinctive with age. Conclusions and implications: RtN may be a potential parameter of interest in a comprehensive early detection model characterising age-specific neurofunctional biomarkers associated with specific disorders, and contribute to early identification.

DOI 10.1016/j.ridd.2018.04.004
Citations Scopus - 8Web of Science - 7
2017 Green VA, Prior T, Smart E, Boelema T, Drysdale H, Harcourt S, et al., 'The use of individualized video modeling to enhance positive peer interactions in three preschool children', Education and Treatment of Children, 40 353-378 (2017)

The study described in this article sought to enhance the social interaction skills of 3 preschool children using video modeling. All children had been assessed as having difficul... [more]

The study described in this article sought to enhance the social interaction skills of 3 preschool children using video modeling. All children had been assessed as having difficulties in their interactions with peers. Two were above average on internalizing problems and the third was above average on externalizing problems. The study used a delayed multiple probe across participants¿ design and was situated in a preschool setting. Videos were individualized for each participant based on age, gender, ethnicity, and individual needs. The models demonstrated appropriate play behavior with peers. Positive outcomes were achieved for 2 participants. The findings suggest that although the social interaction skills of preschool children can be enhanced in their natural environment through the use of video modeling; video modeling alone might not be sufficient for addressing the needs of children with externalizing problems.

DOI 10.1353/etc.2017.0015
Citations Scopus - 1
2017 Marschik PB, Pokorny FB, Peharz R, Zhang D, O Muircheartaigh J, Roeyers H, et al., 'A Novel Way to Measure and Predict Development: A Heuristic Approach to Facilitate the Early Detection of Neurodevelopmental Disorders', Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, 17 (2017)

Purpose of Review: Substantial research exists focusing on the various aspects and domains of early human development. However, there is a clear blind spot in early postnatal deve... [more]

Purpose of Review: Substantial research exists focusing on the various aspects and domains of early human development. However, there is a clear blind spot in early postnatal development when dealing with neurodevelopmental disorders, especially those that manifest themselves clinically only in late infancy or even in childhood. Recent Findings: This early developmental period may represent an important timeframe to study these disorders but has historically received far less research attention. We believe that only a comprehensive interdisciplinary approach will enable us to detect and delineate specific parameters for specific neurodevelopmental disorders at a very early age to improve early detection/diagnosis, enable prospective studies and eventually facilitate randomised trials of early intervention. Summary: In this article, we propose a dynamic framework for characterising neurofunctional biomarkers associated with specific disorders in the development of infants and children. We have named this automated detection ¿Fingerprint Model¿, suggesting one possible approach to accurately and early identify neurodevelopmental disorders.

DOI 10.1007/s11910-017-0748-8
Citations Scopus - 41Web of Science - 41
2015 van der Meer L, Achmadi D, Cooijmans M, Didden R, Lancioni GE, O Reilly MF, et al., 'An iPad-Based Intervention for Teaching Picture and Word Matching to a Student with ASD and Severe Communication Impairment', Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 27 67-78 (2015)

iPads® have been successfully used as speech-generating devices (SGD) for children with ASD and limited speech, but little research has investigated the use of iPads to enhance ac... [more]

iPads® have been successfully used as speech-generating devices (SGD) for children with ASD and limited speech, but little research has investigated the use of iPads to enhance academic skills, such as picture/word matching. In the present study, a student with ASD received intervention to teach picture and word matching using an iPad-based SGD as the response mode. A multiple baseline across matching tasks design was used to evaluate the effects of a graduated guidance prompting procedure and differential reinforcement on correct matching across four matching tasks (i.e., picture to picture, word to picture, picture to word, and word to word). With intervention, the student showed increased correct matching across all four combinations, suggesting that picture and word matching with an iPad-based SGD can be successfully taught using graduated guidance and differential reinforcement. This approach might have relevance for teaching a range of academic/literacy skills to students with ASD who present with limited or no speech.

DOI 10.1007/s10882-014-9401-5
Citations Scopus - 20Web of Science - 17
2015 Roche L, Sigafoos J, Lancioni GE, Oreilly MF, Green VA, 'Microswitch Technology for Enabling Self-Determined Responding in Children with Profound and Multiple Disabilities: A Systematic Review', AAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 31 246-258 (2015)

We reviewed 18 studies reporting on the use of microswitch technology to enable self-determined responding in children with profound and multiple disabilities. Identified studies ... [more]

We reviewed 18 studies reporting on the use of microswitch technology to enable self-determined responding in children with profound and multiple disabilities. Identified studies that met pre-determined inclusion criteria were summarized in terms of (a) participants, (b) experimental design, (c) microswitches and procedures used, and (d) main results. The 18 studies formed three groups based on whether the microswitch technology was primarily intended to enable the child to (a) access preferred stimuli (7 studies), (b) choose between stimuli (6 studies), or (c) recruit attention/initiate social interaction (5 studies). The results of these studies were consistently positive and support the use of microswitch technology in educational programs for children with profound and multiple disabilities as a means to impact their environment and interact with others. Implications for delivery of augmentative and alternative communication intervention to children with profound and multiple disabilities are discussed.

DOI 10.3109/07434618.2015.1024888
Citations Scopus - 26Web of Science - 23
2014 Roche L, Sigafoos J, Lancioni GE, O'Reilly MF, van der Meer L, Achmadi D, et al., 'Comparing Tangible Symbols, Picture Exchange, and a Direct Selection Response for Enabling Two Boys with Developmental Disabilities to Access Preferred Stimuli', JOURNAL OF DEVELOPMENTAL AND PHYSICAL DISABILITIES, 26 249-261 (2014)
DOI 10.1007/s10882-013-9361-1
Citations Scopus - 2Web of Science - 2
2014 Waddington H, Sigafoos J, Lancioni GE, O'Reilly MF, van der Meer L, Carnett A, et al., 'Three children with autism spectrum disorder learn to perform a three-step communication sequence using an iPad

Background: Many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have limited or absent speech and might therefore benefit from learning to use a speech-generating device (SGD). The ... [more]

Background: Many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have limited or absent speech and might therefore benefit from learning to use a speech-generating device (SGD). The purpose of this study was to evaluate a procedure aimed at teaching three children with ASD to use an iPad®-based SGD to make a general request for access to toys, then make a specific request for one of two toys, and then communicate a thank-you response after receiving the requested toy. Method: A multiple-baseline across participants design was used to determine whether systematic instruction involving least-to-most-prompting, time delay, error correction, and reinforcement was effective in teaching the three children to engage in this requesting and social communication sequence. Generalization and follow-up probes were conducted for two of the three participants. Results: With intervention, all three children showed improvement in performing the communication sequence. This improvement was maintained with an unfamiliar communication partner and during the follow-up sessions. Conclusion: With systematic instruction, children with ASD and severe communication impairment can learn to use an iPad-based SGD to complete multi-step communication sequences that involve requesting and social communication functions.

DOI 10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2014.05.001
Citations Scopus - 39Web of Science - 35
2014 Roche L, Sigafoos J, Lancioni GE, O'Reilly MF, Schlosser RW, Stevens M, et al., 'An evaluation of speech production in two boys with neurodevelopmental disorders who received communication intervention with a speech-generating device', International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, 38 10-16 (2014)

Background: Children with neurodevelopmental disorders often present with little or no speech. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) aims to promote functional communic... [more]

Background: Children with neurodevelopmental disorders often present with little or no speech. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) aims to promote functional communication using non-speech modes, but it might also influence natural speech production. Method: To investigate this possibility, we provided AAC intervention to two boys with neurodevelopmental disorders and severe communication impairment. Intervention focused on teaching the boys to use a tablet computer-based speech-generating device (SGD) to request preferred stimuli. During SGD intervention, both boys began to utter relevant single words. In an effort to induce more speech, and investigate the relation between SGD availability and natural speech production, the SGD was removed during some requesting opportunities. Results: With intervention, both participants learned to use the SGD to request preferred stimuli. After learning to use the SGD, both participants began to respond more frequently with natural speech when the SGD was removed. Conclusion: The results suggest that a rehabilitation program involving initial SGD intervention, followed by subsequent withdrawal of the SGD, might increase the frequency of natural speech production in some children with neurodevelopmental disorders. This effect could be an example of response generalization.

DOI 10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2014.07.003
Citations Scopus - 18Web of Science - 18
2014 Roche L, Sigafoos J, Lancioni GE, O'Reilly MF, Green VA, Sutherland D, et al., 'Tangible symbols as an AAC option for individuals with developmental disabilities: A systematic review of intervention studies', AAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 30 28-39 (2014)

We reviewed nine studies evaluating the use of tangible symbols in AAC interventions for 129 individuals with developmental disabilities. Studies were summarized in terms of parti... [more]

We reviewed nine studies evaluating the use of tangible symbols in AAC interventions for 129 individuals with developmental disabilities. Studies were summarized in terms of participants, tangible symbols used, communication functions/skills targeted for intervention, intervention procedures, evaluation designs, and main findings. Tangible symbols mainly consisted of three-dimensional whole objects or partial objects. Symbols were taught as requests for preferred objects/activities in five studies with additional communication functions (e.g., naming, choice making, protesting) also taught in three studies. One study focused on naming activities. With intervention, 54% (n = 70) of the participants, who ranged from 3 to 20 years of age, learned to use tangible symbols to communicate. However, these findings must be interpreted with caution due to pre-experimental or quasi-experimental designs in five of the nine studies. Overall, tangible symbols appear promising, but additional studies are needed to establish their relative merits as a communication mode for people with developmental disabilities. © 2014 International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

DOI 10.3109/07434618.2013.878958
Citations Scopus - 11Web of Science - 9
2013 Van Der Meer L, Kagohara D, Roche L, Sutherland D, Balandin S, Green VA, et al., 'Teaching multi-step requesting and social communication to two children with autism spectrum disorders with three AAC options', AAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 29 222-234 (2013)

The present study involved comparing the acquisition of multi-step requesting and social communication across three AAC options: manual signing (MS), picture exchange (PE), and sp... [more]

The present study involved comparing the acquisition of multi-step requesting and social communication across three AAC options: manual signing (MS), picture exchange (PE), and speech-generating devices (SGDs). Preference for each option was also assessed. The participants were two children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) who had previously been taught to use each option to request preferred items. Intervention was implemented in an alternating-treatments design. During baseline, participants demonstrated low levels of correct communicative responding. With intervention, both participants learned the target responses (two-and three-step requesting responses, greetings, answering questions, and social etiquette responses) to varying levels of proficiency with each communication option. One participant demonstrated a preference for using the SGD and the other preferred PE. The importance of examining preferences for using one AAC option over others is discussed. © 2013 International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

DOI 10.3109/07434618.2013.815801
Citations Scopus - 44Web of Science - 39
2013 Sigafoos J, Lancioni GE, O'Reilly MF, Achmadi D, Stevens M, Roche L, et al., 'Teaching two boys with autism spectrum disorders to request the continuation of toy play using an iPad®-based speech-generating device', Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 7 923-930 (2013)

We evaluated a set of instructional procedures for teaching two nonverbal boys with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to request the continuation of toy play using an iPad®-based sp... [more]

We evaluated a set of instructional procedures for teaching two nonverbal boys with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to request the continuation of toy play using an iPad®-based speech-generating device (SGD). The effects of the instructional procedures were evaluated in a multiple baseline across participants design. Instruction focused on teaching the boys to select a TOY PLAY symbol from the iPad® screen when their toy play was briefly interrupted. The instructional procedures included behavior chain interruption, time delay, graduated guidance, and differential reinforcement. Results showed that both boys learned to use the SGD to request and maintained this skill without prompting. SGD-based requesting also generalized to other objects/activities. Acquisition of SGD-based requesting was associated with decreases in reaching and aggressive behavior. Results suggest that systematic instruction with the iPad®-based SGD effectively replaced reaching and aggression with socially acceptable communication. © 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

DOI 10.1016/j.rasd.2013.04.002
Citations Scopus - 53Web of Science - 46
Show 19 more journal articles
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 4
Total funding $7,260

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20212 grants / $2,000

CHSF Working Parents Research Relief Scheme$1,000

Funding body: College of Human and Social Futures | University of Newcastle

Funding body College of Human and Social Futures | University of Newcastle
Scheme CHSF - Working Parents Research Relief Scheme
Role Lead
Funding Start 2021
Funding Finish 2021
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

2021 Faculty of Education and Arts New Start Grant$1,000

Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
Scheme New Staff Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2021
Funding Finish 2021
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

20202 grants / $5,260

2020 Faculty of Education and Arts New Start Grant $4,000

An initial grant of $5000 for new staff members to kickstart research programs 

Funding body: The University of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts

Funding body The University of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts
Project Team

Laura Roche

Scheme FEDUA New Start Scheme
Role Lead
Funding Start 2020
Funding Finish 2020
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

2020 Faculty of Education and Arts Strategic Early Advice and Feedback Scheme$1,260

Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
Project Team

Dr Laura Roche

Scheme 2020 FEDUA Strategic Early Advice and Feedback Scheme
Role Lead
Funding Start 2020
Funding Finish 2020
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed0
Current2

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2021 Masters Teacher Decision-Making Processes Used when Choosing Augmentative Communication System for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing With Additional Complex Needs M Philosophy (Education), College of Human and Social Futures, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2021 Masters The Impact of Early Diagnosis and Intervention on Academic Achievement For Children on the Autism Spectrum M Philosophy (Education), College of Human and Social Futures, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
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Research Projects

Communication Intervention for those with Rare Genetic Syndromes 2020 - 2025

Children with disabilities tend to experience a range of difficulties, one of which involves problems with effectively communicating basic wants and needs on a daily basis. 

Communication is important for our daily interactions with our peers, our community, and wider society, and without an effective and clear way to communicate to others, we may see the development of behavioural issues.  

There is a large body of research that has looked at how we can support children with a range of disabilities to develop clear and effective communication skills through adopting behavioural intervention techniques- however, for those who have more rare and complex disabilities, such as 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and Angelman syndrome, there is much less evidence of what works. 

In 2020, Laura developed a program of research and leads a small team, involving researchers from the school of Psychology and speech language pathology, that aims to support children with rare neurodevelopmental disabilities to effectively communicate. 

In 2021, we will be running focus groups with parents of children with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, and in 2022 we will begin to provide direct interventions. 

If you want to know more, please email Laura at laura.roche@newcastle.edu.au  


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Research Opportunities

Enhancing the Socio-Communication skills of Young People with Rare Genetic Syndromes

Aplied behaviourally-based interventions to enhance the socio-communication skills of young people with rare genetic syndromes and complex communication difficulties

PHD

Faculty of Education and Arts

17/1/2022 - 28/2/2025

Contact

Doctor Laura Roche
University of Newcastle
School of Education
laura.roche@newcastle.edu.au

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Dr Laura Roche

Position

Lecturer
Special Education
School of Education
College of Human and Social Futures

Contact Details

Email laura.roche@newcastle.edu.au
Links Research Networks
Twitter
Research Networks
Research Networks

Office

Room SE32
Building Special Education Building
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
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