Children diagnosed with Autism have abroad range of conditions identified by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. Most behaviors occur because children with autism have troubles communicating their wants and needs. There are many different options and devices that make it easier for non-verbal children to communicate, such as, Picture Exchange Communication (PECS), Augmentative and Alternative communication (AAC), and Tape Recorders. With these device’s children are advancing not just educationally, but also socially.
The Picture Exchange Communication, also known as PECS, are small icons that show the child what they want or need. The PECS can be displayed as a schedule, or in a sentence structure that say’s “I want…”. The child is to hand this to the person they are communicating with to let people know what it is that they prefer. When using the PECS there is no noise that lets the child know what the actual PEC is. The child must go off what they see in the picture. The person who the child is communicating to should say aloud what the PEC says that they are being handed, this will help the child start to understand what the PEC is saying. The more the child hears the word after handing the PEC, the child will understand when to use the right PEC at the appropriate time. (Wegner)
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The Augmentative and alternative communication, also known as the AAC Device, is another method to help non-verbal children, or children who have troubles expressing themselves, express their wants and needs. According to the Indiana Institute, the AAC device is a microprocessor on a personal computer (PC) or a personal device, such as, an iPad. The AAC device is similar to the pecs, instead a bit more advanced. The child would touch the button of their choice and an automated voice will say the button aloud. Many individuals on the spectrum are more comfortable interacting with inanimate objects such as a computer or Ipad. The AAC device helps in curricular activities, work projects, or writing, but most importantly it helps in speech/language therapy, functional life skills, organization skills, and increasing independence. (Indiana Institute)
I am currently working with a non-verbal student who uses an AAC device. I have been working with this student for 2 years. The first year we communicated through selective sign language. We have recently used the AAC device, but I have seen very few behaviors since we have been using the AAC device, this is because my student is able to communicate to me wants, needs, expressions and feelings. The AAC device has not only helped my student, but it has helped me get to understand my student a lot better with likes and dislikes, food preferences, and emotions. After a few months of using the AAC device my student is now attempting to say some words, following along with the AAC device.
The AAC devices help non-verbal children in many different areas. Communication, visual schedules, decision-making, motivating tool, video modeling, social networking, vocational assistance. Todays technology helps in each area. Visual schedules are very crucial for autistic children, they need to know what the next task is next after completing the one they are on. According to autism speaks, “Individuals with autism who have more difficulty communicating can use technology to make their “voices” heard regarding decisions, which helps foster the self-advocacy skills that are so important as they age into adulthood.”
The AAC device can be used as a motivation tool by using the child’s favorite app games as a reward. (Autism Speaks)
In conclusion, almost all devices are going to help non-verbal children communicate a lot easier then no device at all, but I believe the AAC Device is more effective. The device helps the children learn sounds when pressing the button and hearing the voice command with it. It helps children with fine and gross motor skills, and functional life skills.
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