Alternative Communication for Child With Autism

Picture Exchange Communication System is a type of augmentative and alternative communication technique where individuals with little or no verbal ability learn to communicate using picture cards. Children use these pictures to “vocalize” a desire, observation, or feeling. These pictures can be purchased in a manualized book, or they can be made at home using images from newspapers, magazines or other books. Since some children with autism tend to learn visually, this type of communication technique has been shown to be effective at improving independent communication skills, leading in some cases to gains in spoken language.

Images may be obtained through magazines, photos, or other media. The first thing to do is for the parent to decide which images would be most motivating for the child. Cards are then created with those images, images may be obtained through magazines, photos, or other media. The parent will help their child discover that, by handing over the card, they can get the desired object. The next thing would be to move farther away from the child when showing the picture, so that the child must actually come over and hand the card to the parent to get what they want. This process engages the child’s ability to seek and obtain another person’s attention. In this way, a full vocabulary and methods for using these new words are taught to the child with autism.

After the child develops the ability to do this, the parent would begin giving the child more than one image so that they must decide which to use when requesting an item. The parent would continue to give the child additional cards as they can handle them. This process helps the child’s ‘vocabulary’ increases. Over time, the child may develop the ability to use sentences. Throughout the process, which may take weeks, months or years, the parent gives constant feedback to the child. It is thought that by allowing children to express themselves non-verbally, the children are less frustrated and non-desirable behavior including tantrums is reduced.

Entry Filed under: Treatment Types

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