Ten years ago, before we had such luxuries as tablets and apps, I wanted to create a simple. low-tech tool that could be used manually to help practitioners in AAC obtain a profile of a client’s language. The aim of the profile was;
…to provide a tool that enables a clinician to perform a simple, rapid evaluation of the language performance of a client who is using an SGD or VOCA. (Cross, 2010 p. 116).
I called this tool the “Quick AAC Developmental Profile” or “QUAD Profile.” In essence, it is a set of four checklists that focus on the areas of;
- Vocabulary – the words an individual uses to build sentences
- Morphology – the way words change within a sentence
- Syntax – the order of words in a sentence
- Function – what the purpose of a sentence is
This is a list of early, high frequency words, but with the exclusion of nouns. The reason for this is that nouns are highly idiosyncratic and vary significantly between individuals. All you have to do is check off occurrences of words as you see them in your language sample(s). You’ll see that some words exist only as ROOT forms i.e. without any endings, so if your sample includes the word leaving then you have to check off the word leave but make a note in the Morphology Checklist that the -ing form has been used. The words were selected from a number of sources that include Beukelman, McGinnis and Morrow, 1991; Fried-Oaken and More, 1992; Hofland and Johannson, 1984; Howes, 1966; Leech et al, 2001; Marvin, Beukelman and Bilyeu, 1994; Raban, 1987; Stuart, Beukelman and King, 1997.
In 1973, Roger Brown outlined a developmental sequence for the acquisition of morphology in the English language and this has been used extensively as a benchmark by clinicians. Brown’s morphemes have been used in a number of analytical tools such as the LARSP (Crystal, Garman and Fletcher, 1976), and SALT (Miller and Chapman, 1983) and so I used Brown as the basis for the morphology checklist. You should check off any occurrences of the various words, word endings, or contractions that appear in your sample. You can also mark by date, therefore keeping a record of change over time.
From a very early age, children are able to learn that words can be categorized as parts of speech (Waxman and Gelman, 1986), and even use these categories to attach meaning to words (Hall and Lavin, 2004). Adults frequently add new words to their mental dictionary and can typically use all the correct forms of the word once they know its grammatical category (Prasada and Pinker, 1993; Dabrowska, 2004). The rules that describe how parts of speech can vary are well documented (Huddleston and Pullum, 2005; Quirk and Greenbaum, 1990) and using these rules in any language system is recommended. Specifically, the QUAD drew heavily from the LARSP model and includes a checklist of basic sentence types.
There are a number of possible ways to describe language “functions” but for the sake of simplicity (i.e. to have only 7 types of function to check off) I based the Q-Funct on the work of M.A.K. Halliday (1975). For each sentence (or single-word “sentence”) check off the function that the utterance performs. There may be some ambiguity and a certain amount of interpretation needed. This is a section I’d consider revising at some point.
But I Don’t Do AAC, So…
…so it doesn’t matter. Although I designed the QUAD Profile with the AAC community in mind, it really is a more general tool for language, and as it isn’t standardized or normed, it can be used in a very flexible manner. That’s why it’s a “profile” and not a “test” or a “measure” – that would be claiming far more than it is! The idea is that it can help you perform a brief evaluation that will help you decide where you might want to consider a more detailed assessment. The toughest part is collecting a sample of language; the rest is much easier.
So go ahead and download a free copy and see if it works for you. And if it does, please let me know!
Beukelman, D.R., McGinnis, J. and Morrow, D. (1991) Vocabulary selection in augmentative and alternative communication. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 7, 171–185.
Cross, Russell Thomas. (2010). Developing Evidence-Based Clinical Resources. Embedding Evidence-Based Practice in Speech and Language Therapy (pp. 114-121): John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Crystal, D., Fletcher, P. and Garman, M. (1976) The Grammatical Analysis of Language Disability. London: Arnold. Available as a free download from http://ir.canterbury.ac.nz/handle/10092/5483
Dabrowska, E. (2004) Rules or schemas? Evidence from Polish. Language and Cognitive Processes, 19, 225–271.
Fried-Oaken, M. and More, L. (1992) An initial vocabulary for nonspeaking preschool children based on developmental and environmental language sources. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 8, 41–54.
Hall, D.G. and Lavin, T.A. (2004) The use and misuse of part-of-speech information in word learning: Implications for lexical development. In D.G. Hall and S.R. Waxman (eds), Weaving a Lexicon. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Halliday, M.A.K. (1975) Learning how to Mean. London: Edward Arnold.
Hofland, S. and Johannson, K. (1984) Word Frequencies in British and American English. Bergen: Longman.
Howes, D. (1966) A word count of spoken English. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 5, 572–604.
Huddleston, R. and Pullum, G.K. (2005) A Student’s Introduction to English Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Marvin, C.A., Beukelman, D.R. and Bilyeu, D. (1994) Vocabulary use patterns in preschool children: effects of context and time sampling. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 10, 224–236.
Miller, J.F. and Chapman, R.S. (1983) Systematic Analysis of Language Transcripts (SALT). San Diego: College Hills Press.
Prasada, S. and Pinker, S. (1993) Generalisations of regular and irregular morphological patterns. Language and Cognitive Processes, 8, 1–56.
Quirk, R. and Greenbaum, S. (1990) A Student’s Grammar of the English Language. Harlow, UK: Longman.
Stuart, S., Beukelman, D.R. and King, J. (1997) Vocabulary use during extended conversations by two cohorts of older adults. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 13, 40–47.
Waxman, S.R. and Gelman, R. (1986) Preschoolers’ use of superordinate relations in classification and language. Cognitive Development, 1 (2), 139–156.