My students are young men on the autism spectrum with significant communication and intellectual disabilities, and often additional diagnoses like Down Syndrome.
None of these young men have verbal speech, and rely on sign language and picture symbols to communicate.
They are learning to use iPad programs to communicate with the world around them.
They are a spirited bunch, each with a unique perspective on the world. Like neurotypical adolescents, they like to shoot baskets and play guitar. They like going out in the community for job exploration and training, but especially going out to eat.
A typical lesson might start with my using my device to ask a question, “what day is it today?” by touching the buttons. The student would answer using their own device (their “voice”), “today is Monday.” I am preparing these young men to go out into the world, to get jobs, live as independently as they can, and to enjoy social and recreational activities in the community. They need a lot more functional communication skills to be successful in these endeavors.
Research shows that students learning to use Augmentative Communication do best when they see the teacher model the same.
My students have their own devices to talk, now I need one to be able to model for them.
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