Today ends my month blogging about Autism Awareness. I have found so many articles and links, however, that I will continue to post them from time to time.
Because minimally verbal and non-verbal children with Autism have significant social difficulties, giving them a “talking device” will not make them talk. I’ve heard too many parents of children with Autism believe that if they “only” had this computer, then Jimmy would talk. My experience, is that a child significantly impacted by Autism will initially ignore the device all together, or push the buttons over and over.
That does not mean that people with Autism cannot use Augmentative Communication to help them communicate. Quite the contrary, they can experience enormous success with both simple augmentative communication (picture boards, word boards, writing), simple voice output, and high technology devices.
Patty Murphy, in the Advance article “Austism & AAC”, states
Communication tends to be an anxiety-producing experience for people with autism, she said. It can shut down auditory processing and word-retrieval abilities, which may lead to inappropriate behaviors associated with the fulfillment of wants and needs…
Behavior is communication, she noted. If members of the treatment team can figure out the communicative intent of a behavior, “they can teach a more appropriate replacement behavior.”
Visual tools such as picture symbols and words may serve as a bridge to that end. For example, a child who initially pulls a parent by the hand to express a desire to leave the house may learn first to point to a car or a picture of a car and then to select or compose the message “Can we go for a ride, please?” on a speech-output device.
With significant training of when and how to use words, messages, pictures, and writing children with Autism may be successful with Augmentative communication, whether low or high tech.
Here is a video from the Dynavox website on one child who experienced success with a high technology voice output device. On the right side of the screen click on the link “launch video”.
Keep in mind however, that this movie feature is on the website for the company, which is trying to sell their devices. This is not the best AAC for most individuals with Autism.