Communication Sampling and Analysis
Marilyn Jean Buzolich, Diane Barnes Russell, Judith Lunger-Bergh & Deborah Burns-McCloskey 2011

What is CSA?

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What is CSA?

CSA is an assessment tool designed for infants, toddlers, and children with multiple physical, sensory, speech, and cognitive/linguistic challenges. CSA is an objective measure for sampling and analyzing communication behavior (means and functions) in natural interactions.

Why should you use CSA?

CSA allows a clinician to objectively evaluate a nonverbal or severely speech impaired child that is difficult to test. It provides evidence that the child with complex communication needs is in fact communicating. CSA will yield an inventory of the child’s communicative means and functions. The clinician can use this information to demonstrate a need for communication systems (unaided and aided), develop intervention goals and objectives, train partners, and engineer the environment to increase communication opportunities both quantitatively and qualitatively. The CSA can serve as a pre and post treatment measure to document progress and justify continued treatment.

What is the theoretical background of CSA?

The sampling methodology used in CSA is based on Interaction Research methodology that considers the dyad as the minimal unit of analysis. CSA samples the communication behavior of the child with a partner in context during interactive settings. The analysis methodology is based on Speech Act theory (pragmatics) and is derived from existing taxonomies modified specifically for this special population.

How do we sample the Interaction?

For the purposes of this tool, we sample the child’s observable communication behavior (nonverbal, vocal, verbal) and the consequences or effects the behavior has on the partner. CSA samples the interaction, not the individual. Sampling of the child occurs in a natural context (home, school, community), during an interactive setting (mealtime, play activity), with a partner. The observer chooses, contexts, settings, and partners based on a formulated question, e.g. “What is the baseline level of communication functioning for this child across contexts (home and school)”.

How do we collect and analyze the communication sample?

The evaluator observes (does not interact with) the child and partner and makes notations regarding the interactive setting, child’s behavior, and partner response on the CSA Sampling Form. The observer samples as much of the interaction as possible given the length of the activity but makes notes only what is most obvious and transparent in the interaction. Each complete line on the form is an interactive event sequence. At least 25 Interactive Event Sequences are gathered; which is a minimum number for establishing a representative sample in the specified sampling conditions. To complete the analysis the observer logs onto the CSA and follows the step by step instructions in the quick start guide.

Why use an online version?

CSA online expedites the analysis process and produces a printable sample report and summary report which can be included in an evaluation report. While the analysis can be conducted long hand, the online application makes the process faster and insures accuracy of results. In addition, subsequent sampling sessions can be entered and compared to a previous session. Thus the clinician can compare two samples entered at different times.

What is the reliability and validity of the CSA?

Preliminary data on coding reliability yield reliability greater than 90%. Sampling reliability for two observers sampling the same interaction yielded only 50% of the interactive events in common. However, the profiles were essentially the same. The authors are currently conducting more extensive sampling and reliability data.



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