Top three augmentative communication systems for autism

There are many augmentative communication systems that can be used with individuals who have been diagnosed with autism. These systems can range from ‘high-tech’ systems such as a speech generating device, a ‘low-tech’ system such as a communication book or a ‘no-tech’ system such as using Australian Sign Language. Below are the three augmentative communication systems that Harrison Speech Pathology recommend for supporting the communication of individuals that have been diagnosed with autism.

Augmentative Communication system #1: Proloquo2Go

Proloquo2Go is an application that can be purchased and downloaded onto a suitable device such as an iPad. The application uses visual symbols, pictures, words and speech generating features to support communication.

What are the pros and cons of this device?

Pros of this device are:

  • Provides visual and verbal supports for communication
  • Can be adapted specifically to suit the individual using it
  • Supports social interactions through its interactive nature
  • Assists the user in developing their vocabulary of words

Cons of this system are:

  • Must ensure the battery is always charged for communication all the time Can be a timely process to learn how to most effectively navigate the system
  • Requires access to appropriate technology
  • The expense of the application

How can this system benefit my child?

Proloquo2Go can benefit all users. The app can support early communicators through to advanced communicators. The versatility of the app allows for communication access to a range of disabilities including autism spectrum disorder. The application provides an alternative way to communicate but it also helps improve various language skills such as vocabulary development and sentence structure. The system also allows for increased inclusion in social interactions and allows nonverbal users to express basic needs, wants and emotions.

Where can I get this system?

This application can be purchased on appropriate iOS devices from the Apple iTunes store.

Augmentative Communication device #2: PODD books

PODD stands for Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display. It is a type of communication book that uses words and symbols to represent a large vocabulary of words. It is arranged in a systematic way which supports the social use of language.

What are the pros and cons of this device?

Some pros to this system are:

  • Highlights visual learning and communication strengths in autism spectrum disorder
  • PODD books can be individualized to suit the user
  • Provides a visual scaffold to support communication and process thoughts The book has structure and routine with the categories and placement of the symbols

Some cons to this system are:

  • PODD books can initially look overwhelming to the user
  • The books can get quite big and bulky to carry around all the time
  • Can be a timely process to teach the user how to use the book with decreasing dependence
  • Takes time to identify individualised vocabulary to ensure the user’s vocabulary is not restricted

How can this system benefit my child?

The written and visual components of the PODD book develops understanding and use of language as well as increasing literacy skills. The book allows the user to choose vocabulary that suits a range of communicative functions such as requesting, commenting and greeting.

It has the flexibility to quickly indicate needs like “toilet” or have an extended conversation and express personality.

Where can I get this system?

If you are interested in getting a PODD book for your child, book an appointment with one of our clinicians. We will be able to help you identify which PODD book will be the most appropriate and individualise it with you.

Augmentative Communication system #3: Key Word Sign

Key Word Sign (KWS) is the use of specific manual signs along with gesture, body language and facial expression that assist communication. It uses Australian Sign Language (AUSLAN) signs with only the key words (or essential words) in a sentence being signed.

What are the pros and cons of this system?

Some pros of using KWS:

  • Adds extra support for verbal communication
  • Assists communication partners in understanding what was said Promotes language development while verbal expression may still be developing
  • Adds further meaning to verbal expression

Some cons of using KWS:

  • Communication partners may not understand some key signs without some verbal expression
  • Requires fine motor control for some signs
  • Can be a time consuming process to learn all appropriate signs

How can this system benefit my child?

Key Word Sign can benefit your child by providing a good visual and tactile model along side their verbal expression attempts. Using it takes the pressure off using verbal expression as the sole means of communication. This system also encourages users to really emphasise key words and slow down their rate of speech.

Where can I learn this system?

If you are interested in using Key Word Sign to assist your child’s communication, book an appointment with one of our trained clinicians. We will be able to help you find the best method of communication for your child.

Please get in touch with our team today, we would love to help you and your child.

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