Communication and ASD
Communication is an essential part of being human. For individuals with ASD, communication is a challenge no matter how much, or how little, he or she speaks. For families and professionals, supporting and encouraging communication skills requires a team approach. Helping individuals with ASD communicate everything from basic wants and need to complex thoughts and ideas can include a wide range of interventions from visual supports to high tech assistive technology.
Because communication is so problematic for individuals with ASD, their caregivers, and the professionals who support them, the VCU Autism Center for Excellence (VCU-ACE) has included Communication as one of our statewide goals to help improve service delivery for students with ASD. These goals are based upon our work with school divisions across the Commonwealth, and may also serve as a focus for problem solving and resource sharing within the regional Communities of Learning in Autism Spectrum Disorders (CoLAs).
It is crucial that IEP teams have access to research-based guidelines and resources in order to help improve the communication capabilities of all students with ASD. All students with ASD need to be able to communicate effectively across environments and for a variety of purposes. Because of this, VCU-ACE is in the process of developing guidelines to enhance the understanding of what communication is, why it is important, and to advance expectations of team members. The guidelines will outline strategies to ensure continued growth in communication by addressing the following areas:
- Identification of communication goals;
- Implementation of communication learning opportunities;
- Implementation of strategies and supports;
- Development and application of a systematic plan for enhancing communication capabilities; and
- Commitment to developing an individualized long-term mode of communication.
As our work progresses with this project, and as resources are identified and developed, we will update the contents of this page. Please check back regularly for updates.
VCU-ACE recognizes the need of students with ASD in the area of communication and has developed resources to support educators in identifying communication needs, teaching communication for students with ASD, and supporting students in this area throughout their educational career. Website pages have been developed that can be used as a gateway for educators to information on evidence-based practices, information about communication including the functions and modes, different screeners for students with ASD, and many other resources.
Guides and Factsheets
VCU-ACE has developed two Factsheets related to communication: Autism Q & A: Introduction to Alternative and Augmentative Communication and Autism Q & A: Introduction to Teaching Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to Verbally Communicate.
Videos and Training
VCU-ACE has developed two Seminars on Communication that provide information and resources to support individuals with ASD so that they can communicate both effectively and efficiently. Because communication is so important, individuals with ASD must be provided with a way to communicate and must be taught how to build communication skills as they grow and develop. Introduction to Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) with Individuals with ASD is designed to provide an overview of the types of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems available and discusses how to use AAC devices to help individuals with ASD communicate. Children can be taught to communicate in a variety of different ways including the use of verbal language. Introduction to Teaching Young Children with ASD to Verbally Communicate is designed to help caregivers and educators teach verbal communication to children with ASD. This seminar provides information on finding ways to motivate children to talk, setting up an environment that encourages language, teaching communication during natural situations, and prompting the child to communicate.
Research and Articles
Ganz, J., et al. (2011). "A Meta-Analysis of Single Case Research Studies on Aided Augmentative and Alternative Communication Systems with Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders." Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities. 42, 60-74.
Mirenda, P. (2008). "A Back Door Approach to Autism and AAC." Augmentative and Alternative Communication. 24, 219-233.
Mirenda, P. (2001). "Autism, Augmentative Communication, and Assistive Technology: What Do We Really Know?" Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. 16, 141-151.