How AAC can help people on Spectrum communicate?

We briefly discussed Autism Spectrum Disorder in our last post, and also touched upon the challenges people on the spectrum might face. These challenges vary from social, sensory, communication, behavior, and cognitive. Various techniques are used to deal with each challenge. 

Let's talk about communication. It includes four main components- Understanding, Talking, Reading, and Writing. Depending on the spectrum level, some people are able to understand and communicate to a decent level but others lack the ability to even communicate the basic needs. Besides the above issues, following directions and having conversations are also some of the challenges NeuroAtypicals face.

Neuro Atypicals communicate via hand gestures, sign language, body movements, etc. These are very limited ways and not understandable by members outside the close vicinity. But studies and improvements in behavioral sciences, psychology, and technology have produced various methods that can help individuals on the spectrum communicate better.

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a unique alternative/augmentative communication system that includes specific prompting and reinforcement strategies that lead to independent communication. It is divided into 6 stages which start from building vocabulary with a single word exchange and slowly building to sentence formation at later stages. All this is done using pictures. A small complication that comes with PECs is the plethora of pictures and pain to carry all of those everywhere. Besides that type and usage of various pictures differ from place to place and situations.

An alternative to that is assistive devices that use technology to provide the same experience. Various Apps are out there in the market that provides assistive technology that includes vocabulary of words that user can click and with voice output the users can communicate their needs. These apps come with various customization formats, a pool of vocabulary and words, and other technical interventions that enable speech in nonverbals.

Though there are certain limitations with AAC devices but till now, they are most effective in enabling communication among non-verbals. Whenever you plan to buy an AAC device for your ward, make sure you consult your psychologist/doctor about the type of AAC to be used and at what stage it should be used.


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