Using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Presume Competence for ALL Individuals

By: Sheryl Rosin Ph.D.,CCC-SLP, Owner/Director of Palm Beach Speech-Language Specialists, CAS and Trainer for IBCCES, Adjunct Professor, Nova Southeastern University

domMeet Dominik

I have been working with individuals with autism for 20 years and have met many interesting and exciting people along the way. In this blog, I have someone that I would like to introduce to you that I believe is an extraordinary person. His name is Dominik and he is 14-years-old. Dominik has diagnoses of autism and apraxia and is essentially non-verbal with his spoken language, but is definitely NOT non-verbal when using other means to communicate aside from the spoken word. Upon meeting Dominik, you may assume that he has limited communication skills, but since we presume competence when working with our clients, I learned that the opposite it true. Dominik has a passion for writing and using language to communicate his vast interests. One of the ways he has learned to do this is through an augmentative communication application called “Speak for Yourself (SFY).” SFY runs as a communication device on the iPad and uses synthetic speech to aid individuals with their expressive language output. It is based on core vocabulary and allows the person to communicate using generative language. Dominik has learned to use the augmentative communication system to express his wants and needs, feelings, hold conversations with others, and to communicate his expansive knowledge and interests in a variety of topics. Our conversations using AAC have ranged from the etiology of autism to future careers. Dominik thinks that vaccines “are the culprit of autism” and wants to be “a neurologist” when he is older. When Dominik communicates using AAC, he let us into his amazing world of thought. Not only does he use SFY; he can type on a computer keyboard, write with facilitated assistance, and is now starting to use verbal speech as AAC has been a bridge to developing spoken language for him.

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Featured Autism Specialist: Thelma Atha

Thelma Atha, M.Ed, CAS; Director of Counseling Department & Learning Support Specialist at Lincoln International Academy in Managua, Nicaragua; Private practice in Managua, Nicaragua focused on Sensory Integration Therapy, TEACCH, and Behavior Modification Therapy.

Country: Managua, Nicaragua

School/ Organizations/Center: Lincoln International Academy, Managua, Nicaragua

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Arm in Arm with Autism in August? Beat the Heat

By Elayne Pearson, Special Needs Safety/Preparedness Specialist

Elayne's daughter, Miss Heidi Pearson.

Elayne’s daughter, Miss Heidi Pearson.

With temperatures over 100 degrees in much of the United States, most families are challenged simply keeping everyone comfortable, hydrated, and content.  Then, if you add into a household the mix of individuals affected by autism, with their tendencies to be overly-sensitive to temperatures, frustration when routine is disrupted, and struggles with impulsivity—August can be a very tricky month for everyone.  This was too true for our family when Heidi and her three older sister were growing up.  With her dual-diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism, she was cute as a pixie, but often kept us on high-alert, (or “Heidi-alert”). I recall countless summer vacations, where it sure didn’t feel like a vacation.

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New School Year Resolutions

By Brigid Rankowski

brigid

Once again, we are at the time of year that brings about so many mixed emotions for professionals in the education field; The beginning of a new school year. The smell of fresh markers, the sight of a completely clean classroom, a desk without piles of paperwork are all soon to be fleeting things as the momentum of the school year kicks things into high gear. For some educators who are taking on new positions or responsibilities this year, there may we waves of apprehension wondering how everything will manage to get done on time. Others who have been in the field for a while may wonder how they can incorporate new ideas into their lesson plans to keep students interested. There are so many different situations going on and everyone is different.

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I Can’t Read Without My Glasses (an analogy)

By Lois Jean Brady, Author of Apps for Autism – www.itherapyllc.com

 

If you take my glasses away – I can’t read

If you encourage me – I still can’t read

If you give me a verbal model, I know what to say – but I still can’t read

If you give me cues or prompts, I have an idea of what to say – but I still can’t read

If you offer chips and skittles (reinforcers), I still won’t be able to read

If you test me, I will fail and be labeled illiterate or, worse, cognitively delayed

I may referred to resource or special education

If you give me my glasses

I can read!

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15 Behavior Strategies for Children on the Autism Spectrum

autism-high-five 15 behavior strategies for better autism behaviorIn this article you will find 15 supportive behavior strategies for children on the autism spectrum (some strategies can be used with adults as well). Many of the strategies can also be used to help children without autism who have challenging behaviors.When caring for or working with a child with autism, a parent, teacher, or other adult may become frustrated with the child’s behavior. Behaviors can come on suddenly, last for hours, be hard to control, or make the adult scared or embarrassed.

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