Being able to communicate improves self-confidence, ability to interact with peers and family and control of the environment. It can also help to overcome behavioural problems caused by the frustration of not being understood.
Children with ASD often have difficulty in processing sounds and speech. They may need firstly to increase their awareness and use of lips and tongue, in order to help with speech.
Total communication is an approach that encourages a student to use one or more methods to communicate with others, depending on their individual skills. This might involve speech, other vocalization, key word signing, pointing to Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) symbols or photos, informal gestures and the use of electronic voice output devices, or specialised speech programs.
Learning to communicate during social interaction involves several skills including: using language appropriate to the situation, looking at another person, taking your turn, concentrating on an activity, talking about a subject of mutual interest and staying on the topic. All these skills combine to enable successful communication.
At Giant Steps Tasmania we have two Speech & Language Pathologists on staff who work with students within the classroom setting, with small groups and also on a one-to-one basis. The role of the SLPs is to both improve the communication skills of the students and to teach staff about relevant procedures and methods to use in their daily instruction. They are also involved in the goal setting process for students and are available to provide information to families as required.