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Communication and ASD

Communication is an essential part of being human. For individuals with ASD, communication can be a challenge no matter how much or how little he or she speaks. Supporting and encouraging communication skills requires a team approach. Helping individuals with ASD communicate everything from basic wants and needs to complex thoughts and ideas can include a wide range of interventions from visual supports to high tech assistive technology.

Because communication is a critical life skill for individuals with ASD, VCU-ACE has included Communication as one of our state goals. These goals are based upon our work with school divisions across the Commonwealth, and also serve as a focus for problem solving and resource sharing within the regional Communities of Learning in Autism (CoLAs).

All students with ASD need to be able to communicate effectively across environments and for a variety of purposes. Because of this, VCU-ACE has developed Communication Guidelines and Resources to:


The Communication Guidelines and Resources outline strategies to ensure continued growth in communication by addressing the following areas:

  1. Identification of communication goals;
  2. Implementation of communication learning opportunities;
  3. Implementation of strategies and supports to enhance communication;
  4. Development and application of a systematic plan for enhancing communication capabilities; and
  5. 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.


Communication Guidelines and Resources

We recognize the critical need of students with ASD in the area of communication and have developed resources to support educational team members in identifying communication needs, teaching communication to students with ASD, and supporting students in this area throughout their educational career. Communication Guidelines and Resources have been developed to provide educators information on functions of communication, modes of communication, assessment tools, evidence-based practices, 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.

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