Special Education: Augmentative Communication
Augmentative Communication embodies methods used to replace or enhance speech and or writing for students with impairments in those categories. It is used for many impairments including cerebral palsy, autism and intellectual impairment. Augmentative Communication is essential for those who need temporary or permanent aid. The first use of Augmentative Communication was around the 1950’s and increased during the 1960’s and 70’s. This was thanks to the west, when inclusion of disabled children and adults into the society started.
Some forms of Augmentative Communication include body language, speech generating devices, adapted mice, the PECS system and more. Anything that can help someone with impairment, speak or write is generally included. Body language and sign language are a great ways to communicate with those who cannot speak at all. Speech generating devices allow the user to choose words to say through pressing a button or looking at a word, and it will speak for them. This is a very useful technique for those who understand but cannot communicate orally.
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The PECS system includes a set of pictures commonly attached to a book, filled with images and words that match. This system is specific to the user, but it allows the user to pick pictures or words from the book and give to others to communicate. This can be used even to form sentences. There are many great Augmentative Communication techniques and with our technological world, we are getting even more advanced. For my student at Lothrop elementary, we used body language including sign language, and an I-Pad as forms of communication.
While Lea could say few words including Yes, No, Mom and Hi, she could not communicate to us how she was feeling or what she wanted. Sign language was a way for us to start understanding what she wanted to do and a way to show her what she needed to do. Sticking to a schedule and constantly practicing sign language allowed Leah to understand and even start signing a few things on her own. Leah’s I-Pad had not yet had communication software installed on it, but they were planning on doing that as soon as they could choose the right program.
This program did allow her to start learning letters, numbers and helped her learn to point. Pointing was a huge learning advantage for Leah because she could start to point to things and allow us to understand what she wanted. Augmentative Communication really allowed Leah to lessen her frustration because it opened up new ways for her to communicate with her peers and her teachers. She was using un-aided systems and aided systems to learn valuable communication tools, and I believe in the next few years she will be able to start talking on her own!