Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders


Communication Skills

Communication Skills

Although the cause of speech and language problems in
autism is unknown, many experts believe that the difficulties
are caused by a variety of conditions that occur either
before, during, or after birth affecting brain development.

This interferes with an individual's ability to interpret
and interact with the world.

The communication problems of autism vary, depending upon
the intellectual and social development of the individual.

Some may be unable to speak, whereas others may have rich
vocabularies and are able to talk about topics of interest
in great depth.

Most have difficulty effectively using language.

Many also have problems with word and sentence meaning,
and understanding.

No one treatment method has been found to successfully
improve communication in all individuals who have autism.

The best treatment begins early, during the preschool
years, and is geared towards the individual.

The goal of therapy should be to improve useful

For some, verbal communication is a realistic goal.

For others, the goal may be gestured communication.

Still others may have the goal of communicating by means
of a symbol system such as picture boards.

A lack of communication skills may cause inappropriate
behaviors and challenging situations for both the child and

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is an
augmentative communication system developed to help
individuals quickly acquire a functional means of

PECS is appropriate for individuals who do not use speech
or who may speak with limited effectiveness: those who
have articulation or motor planning difficulties,
limited communicative partners, or a lack of
initiative in communication.

PECS has a number of advantages over other methods of
addressing communication.

Most importantly, it works, which encourages the child to
communicate more often, reducing frustrating situations.

When your child hands you a picture or sentence strip,
you can easily understand what they are trying to communicate
with you.

From the start, communication is initiated by your child,
making it meaningful and highly motivating.

It is an inexpensive communication system.

A PECS symbol can be as simple as a hand-drawn picture,
or a snapshot.

The child is able to communicate with anyone, versus
sign language.

Anyone willing to accept a picture is available, not
just those who understand sign language or who are
familiar enough with the child to understand him/her.

Children are able to generalize communication to a wide
variety of situations and people.

The Parenting Autism Resource Guide: A Complete Resource Guide For Parents Who Have Children Diagnosed With Autism.

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