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    Posted April 2, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Communicating through autism

    Using Special Interests to Build Communication.

    Challenges with communication is at the core of autism. As a speech-language pathologist and mom I spend countless hours at work and home building effective communication skills.
    This is what I have learned over the years... Every child on the autism spectrum is unique. An individualized-personal approach to communication that fits both the child and their family should be designed with the child's special interests in mind.
    For example --
    I use Buttercup, my potbelly pig, to connect to students who love animals. Many of my students feel comfortable talking with an animal and in fact may say their first words to an animal. The communication skills used when talking with a pet can ultimately be transferred to a human. See Buttercup's story. http://proactivespeech.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/some-pig-some-impact-buttercup/

    Another child may be motivated by music, song and movement. So we sing and dance to communicate. The melody and dance steps and incrementally faded and the student is communicating.

    The use of technology has made a HUGE impact motivating children with autism to communicate and learn. Touch screen devices have not only given children a way to express themselves, but are changing our expectations of children on the spectrum. Traditional ways of using technology are being replaced by highly motivating methods such as apps and iPads. My extensive experience working and living with children on the spectrum have given me the insight to build a communication app that uses motivation and special interests to build communication. www.innervoiceapp.com

    For my own son who loved to line-up his cars through the living room, down the hall and into the kitchen, he learned the important skill of communication during this activity. We spent hundreds of hours working together placing cars bumper to bumper creating the worlds largest traffic jam. I kept the cars in a large bucket and if he wanted one he had to ask for it. initially just "car'" then "blue car," then "shiny blue car," building language one car at a time.

    Creating a communication system for children on the autism spectrum is a unique challenge for every family. My advice and success in a nutshell is -- Use your child's special interest (animals, music, technology, cars, etc.). Go into their world and slowly lead them to yours.

    (tags) autism communication animal assisted therapy technology app iPad AAC song music special needs family
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