Why do we do what we do? Prof. Ralf Schlosser's visit to the CAAC

Posted on March 06, 2015

In an applied field like Augmentative and Alternative Communication, practitioners make intervention decisions every day. But what is the evidence for these decisions? Do we do what we do because we’ve always done it that way or because there is a research based evidence for what we do? These were the critical questions Professor Ralf W. Schlosser’s (PhD,) who is a visiting research fellow at the Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, asked during his two thought provoking seminars.

The central theme of these seminars was evidence-based practice and the movements towards ensuring all clinical decisions are based on evidence. Practitioners were challenged to question the evidence-base for their clinical practice. What is the evidence for the interventions provided to people who use AAC, or autism? How do you determine what the evidence is and how does one evaluate the research to support evidence-based practice?  He further challenged researchers to ensure that their research asks relevant clinical questions.

The seminars therefore explored the synergy between ensuring evidence-based clinical practice and clinically informed research questions. The first seminar on 26 February was entitled “Evidence-Based Practice”. In this presentation Professor Schlosser covered the importance of evidence-based interventions and systematically outlined the methods in critically determining what evidence is available for various interventions. The discussion highlighted critical issues in intervention research and recommendations for future research. He specifically discussed the EVIDAAC data base that he, along with his colleagues, is developing to assist in synthesizing and evaluating research in AAC. The second workshop focused on AAC and autism. With the median prevalence estimates of autism spectrum disorders being 62/10 000 there was much interest in the seminar. There were over 50 participants from various schools, professions as well as parents, and cities including Cape Town who attended the seminar. The synthesis of evidence-based practice for children with autism, dispelled some of the myths around intervention with children with autism, areas for future research were also highlighted.  

Professor Schlosser is a Professor at the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology with a joint appointment at School Psychology Program, Department of Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston. In addition, he serves as the Director of Clinical Research, Center for Communication Enhancement, Autism Language Program, Department of Otolaryngology and Communication Disorders, Boston Children’s Hospital. He is also founding Editor-in-Chief (with Drs. Sigafoos & Koul), Evidence- based Communication Assessment and Intervention and serves on the editorial boards of various journals. Prof Schlosser has published over 50 peer-reviewed ISI accredited articles, two books, and 25+ book chapters. He has repeatedly received the Editor's Award for the most significant research article published in Augmentative and Alternative Communication. His current professional interests are augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and assistive technology for children with developmental disabilities in general and autism spectrum disorders in particular; speech output technology; severe disabilities; evidence-based practice; research methods; systematic reviews; treatment research.

Professor Schlosser’s visit to the CAAC was made possible by the successful application for a Foreign Research Fellow at the National Research Foundation (Grant number 92953) by Dr Shakila Dada. The valuable support of Professor Stephanie Burton, DVC Research and Postgraduate Education, University of Pretoria is gratefully acknowledged.  The rest of  his visit is to develop capacity in research methods in AAC. He will serve as an advisory consultant for Dr Shakila Dada on research methods as well as for her postgraduate students at the CAAC.

- Author Dr.Shakila Dada

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences