Communication Strategies for Children with Autism
Unlocking Language Through Technology
This web site is dedicated to providing ideas, research, information and support on supporting individuals with autism and complex communication needs. The goal of this site is to provide a usable balance of research-based information and practical "in-the-trenches" tools and strategies for unlocking the potential of individuals on the Autism Spectrum.
Autism and Augmentative and Alternative Communication Core Principles
- Assume communication potential! It will make a qualitative difference in how you teach, approach and talk to individuals on the Autism Spectrum.
- There is growing evidence that ASD has a strong motor component, impacting the ease with which an individual can show what they know.
- Instruction and activities must be MEANINGFUL. Rote, meaningless drills are boring, and while a student may demonstrate the ability to learn disconnected, unrelated skills, they have no real life enhancing value.
- The most effective activities and curricular materials are concrete, connected to the real world and have value to the person on the Autism Spectrum.
- Remember that you may collect and analyze scientifically valid data showing progress on skills that may be irrelevant or dead-end skills.
- Communication is not a tool, a service, an activity, or a "thing-to-do", it is a way of being. It's what humans do. Opportunities to communicate should be continuous. Tools to augment communication (AAC) should be ubiquitous.
- Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) not only helps "unlock" language but provides the supports to help limited speakers develop more complex language.
- There should be no gatekeeper skills for providing AAC. If an individual has difficulty with communication intermittently or on a chronic day-to-day basis, the need for AAC support equals eligibility for supports.
- Individuals with autism who can speak may not have access to their full internal vocabulary at all times, especially if stressed and upset. Therefore AAC should be available to support these difficult times.
- The communication partner is the single most important factor in a successful AAC intervention. The communication partner must be committed, competent and creative - that is, be able to create multiple communication opportunities, use the AAC device him/herself and always assume, presume ability and competence.
- Adults on the Autism Spectrum are speaking out. They inform our practice and they advocate robust AAC supports.
Featured Documents by Dr. Joanne M. Cafiero (8/1/2012)
Featured Monographs by Dr. Joanne M. Cafiero
Technology Supports for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, from Technology in Action, Vol. 3, Issue 3, May 2008
AAC and Autism: Challenging Our Beliefs, from Closing the Gap, Vol. 26, No.1, April/May 2007
AAC and Group Instruction, from Closing the Gap, Vol. 23, No.4, October/November 2004
Featured Presentations by Dr. Joanne M. Cafiero
AAC Meets ABA: Natural Aided Language", presented at ISAAC 2010, Barcelona, Spain
Autism and AAC: Research to Practice, April 2010
Aided Language Stimulation and Autism, presented at ATIA, January 2010 (with Linda Burkhart, Caroline Musselwhite and Sam Sennott)
Something's Wrong. © Mayer-Johnson, 2000
Upcoming and Recent Workshops & Presentations
- March 11-12, 2013
Columbia Regional Center, Portland Public Schools
Communication Partnerships, Technology and Autism
- May 17, 2013
Western Maryland Association of School Psychologists
- October 21-22, 2013
MRH Associates, Portland, Maine
Communication Partnerships, Technology & Autism: Research to Practice