Children with autism typically have strong skills in responding to visual cues such as

Augmentative and Alternative Communication Systems for Children with Autism

pictures or words, but they often have difficulty in speaking. And while about 50% of children with autism do not speak, they tend to be highly visual. There has been a greater trend for schools and therapists to incorporate a visual AAC program using either visual communication or a voice-output communication aid (VOCAs).

Electronic Devices – These devices are very appealing to children and provide them with motivation to participate and focus on various skills and classroom activities successfully. Any type of visual representation system can be placed on simple voice output devices for children to access by a simple push of a “button.” Most of these devices are battery operated and easy to operate for recording messages. Click here for electronic devices.

Picture Boards/Visual Schedule – These are a set of pictures that communicate a series of activities, or the steps of a specific activity, and help children understand and manage the daily events. The schedules can be created using photographs, pictures, written words, or physical objects and are intended to decrease the need for constant adult involvement in the activity. When designing a picture board, consider the following: (1) is the picture meaningful and recognizable; (2) should words, pictures or illustrations be used; (3) is the activity clear to the child; and (4) can the child complete the activity? Click here for speech communication devices.

Sign Language – Sign Language is a very practical form of AAC, in that it does not require any extra materials, is permanent as long as the child is able to remember the signs, and is easily used at a distance from a communicative partner. Learning Sign Language also benefits children socially and behaviorally. When children are able to express themselves, they are much more likely to seek out social interactions, and to be rewarded to doing so. Also, behavioral outbursts are far less likely when children are not frustrated by being unable to express needs and wants.