When children reach the age of 12 months, they are expected to have a vocabulary of approximately 50 words that they can use to convey thoughts and needs. Over time, those 50 words blossom into a vocabulary that is put into working sentences. A child that has difficulty verbally conveying simple ideas by the age of 12 months could be experiencing speech development issues that might concern parents. But with a little focused therapy using communication alternatives, any child can have the opportunity to develop an expansive vocabulary.
Using Sign Language
Children who have good motor skills but problems verbally conveying thoughts can be taught to communicate using the American Sign Language (ASL) system. Parents with children who do not have hearing issues might wonder why the ASL system would be used to teach their child communication, but the reasoning is very sound.
If a child has good motor skills, then that child is comfortable expressing themselves with their facial expressions and their hands. Sign language can be used to express simple ideas, but it can also help children to learn how to put together sentences and build their vocabulary.
Visual Communication Through Pictures
Child development specialists have developed a visual communication system called the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) that is used to help verbally challenged children. In this system, children are taught to associate their wants and needs with pictures and present those pictures as a way of communicating. Children are presented with a book that contains pictures and pages lined with Velcro where the children can line up pictures to not only convey simple ideas, but also create full sentences.
A huge benefit of PECS is that it helps children who are having speech development issues to associate words with the visual representations of those words. This enhances understanding and helps children to learn to create complex sentences quickly.
How These Alternatives Work
Parents who are hesitant to utilize these speech development methods with their children should know that these methods have been proven to:
• Help children with speech development problems to learn to verbally communicate more effectively
• Teach children complex sentence structure that children with developmental issues might otherwise not comprehend
• Significantly increase a child’s confidence because of the ability to convey ideas
• Enhance a child’s ability and desire to speak with other members of their family
• Show a child with speech development challenges that they can communicate in a variety of situations
• Reduce angry outbursts and episodes of frustration in children who might otherwise have difficulty communicating
Parents often feel that the ability for their child to speak is critically important in establishing their child’s independence and helping their child to integrate into society. But the truth is that the ability to communicate is just as important as the ability to speak. Through alternative forms of communication, children who can speak can eventually learn the skills they need to be able to form full sentences and present their ideas to others.
Eden II Programs helps the autism community by providing programs and services combined with lifespan support to improve the quality of life for individuals with ASD and their families. Eden II has the greatest ability to help individuals with ASD reach their highest potential for independent, self-sustained living through high-quality ABA services, educational programs, adult day programs, group residential care, family support, respite, and a number of other services. Eden II Programs uses the evidence-based practices of ABA to develop skills, promote independence, and change lives for the better.
For information on programs and services available at Eden II, please visit us online at eden2.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.