Communication is Key

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Communication is a much needed skill  in everything we do.  From simple tasks like washing our hands, playing with friends, and completing work, we exchange words between one another in order to communicate our needs, wants, and ideas.  People with autism have a much harder time communicating these same every day things.

Advancements in technology have made communication with people with autism a little bit easier.  The amount of technology available is in abundance.  I searched several different websites to come up with the most common, effective, and helpful technologies.  Unfortunately, several of those were a bit pricey and on a teacher budget, I was looking for something FREE.

What I kept in mind when searching for a technology was the three key diagnostic features of Autism Spectrum Disorder, which are speech, language, and communication(Low & Lee, 2011, p.18).  I stumbled upon a couple different apps made for iPads or iPhones.  These could be key in the fact that either device can be readily available, easily accessible, and can follow the student wherever they may go (classroom to the resource room to the lunch room).

As Low and Lee (2011) stated, autistics show a”lack of interest in communicating with others, lack of intentionality in communication, and a lack of abilities to initiate, maintain, and end a reciprocal interaction (p.19).  Engaging the student in the classroom through visuals would potentially help their social interactions with others and participation in the classroom along with increasing their verbal skills using a handheld device.  Devices that can be moved with the child could prove to be more successful in the student’s learning, communication, and socialization.

Pogo Boards is an app available for iPad, iPod, and iPhones.  The app contains social stories, step-by-step directions, as well as words/phrases.  The app is free and you can download an unlimited amount of boards from the internet.  The best feature of the app is that you can create your own board to best fit the needs of your student with autism.

IMG_0141This is an example of a social story on taking turns.

IMG_0140Step-By-step directions on what to do during arrival at school.

IMG_0138Basic words/phrases a student may use throughout the day.

Communication through pictures has proven to be effective with students who have autism in communicating and gradually developing verbal language (Low & Lee, 2011, p.23).  Some examples of communication with pictures includes but is not limited to, visual schedules, visual pictures at desk to request for things, and visual prompts on worksheets (Low & Lee, 2011, p.25).  With the use of the Pogo Boards app, it allows the child to communicate their needs, wants, and ideas.  They can refer back to the device when needed in order to get their thoughts and ideas across to another individual.  With the use of the speaker on the app as well, it allows for the student with autism to hear how to communicate or say these things verbally.  With continuous use and repetition, this app helps a student with autism really excel in the classroom and feel a part of the class, having the means to communicate and interact socially and academically.

It is astonishing what the impact technology can have on people with needs.  Now it’s time to get teachers acquainted with this technology to better meet the needs of ALL students.

References:

LEARN NC. (2015, March 10). Using picture cues to communicate. [Video]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C8LEQxSOUY

Low, Hui Min; Lee, Lay Wah. (2011, December).  Teaching of Speech, Language and Communication Skills for Young Children with Severe Autism Spectrum Disorders: What Do Educators Need to Know? [Journal Article]. Retrieved from: http://files.eric.ed.gov.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/fulltext/EJ955538.pdf

MSR Online. (2015, April 2). April is National Autism Awareness Month. [Image]. Retrieved from: http://spokesman-recorder.com/2015/04/02/april-national-autism-awareness-month/