Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Andrew R. Brulle

Thesis Committee Member

Placido Hoernicke


The practice of total communication in language training for non-deaf individuals labeled mentally retarded has been guided by very little empirical evidence. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine whether the use of a total communication approach facilitates an increase in the frequency of expressive language behavior in children labeled trainable mentally handicapped. The three subjects studied, one male and two females, were selected on the basis of age and I.Q. They were enrolled in a self-contained, public school which was located in a rural area of Illinois. A multi-element baseline procedure was used. Stimuli were presented using an oral method and a total communication method in an elicited play situation. All expressive language behavior was then recorded via frequency recording. The results indicated that there was no significant difference in the frequency of expressive language behavior when a total communication approach or an oral approach was used. The setting, the duration and the stimuli may all have been factors which influenced the results. Further research in this area is warranted.