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AAC for High Functioning Autism?

Dr. Judy Montgomery

April 12, 2004



For a 2-year old that has recently been diagnosed with high functioning Autism, and no frustration with very limited expressive communication, would you recommend an AAC? Vocabulary is limited to Bye Bye, Mama, and occasionally Dada.


An AAC system can give a nonspeaking child many new options to control the world around him. I suggest picture communication cards first. Just 3-5 picture cards, not a language board. Have the cards out each time and match them to real objects. Example: a food the child likes, his picture, your picture, a toy he likes, an article of clothing he likes. Then play with the cards as though they were words. Use them to ''call'' the objects out. Hold up the picture of you. ''Where is Judy? Can you find Judy? Oh where is Judy?'' Point to self. ''Here's Judy.'' Tape the picture on yourself. ''Where is CHILD'S NAME? I can't find_____.'' Point to child-- ''Oh there is ______.'' Tape the picture on him if he will let you, if not just put it near him. {Show picture of toy item. ''Where is the dump truck?'' ''Oh here it is.'' Tape it on the truck. Then do the article of clothing the same way (easier if he is not wearing it.) Finally do the food item, find it and reward him with it. Go through the same pattern every time, until he can match easily and quickly and then keep adding more. Always finish with favorite food item. Keep reviewing the earlier ones as you add new ones. If AAC is an avenue for this child, you will be able to make significant progress in a short time and likely get to a receptive vocabulary with picture clues of about 50-100 words. Begin to display the cards in large pocket chart so it slowly becomes a Language Boards he can use to select items.

Dr. Judy K. Montgomery has been a speech language pathologist in schools, a director of grant for children who use AAC, a school principal and is currently a professor of special education and literacy at Chapman University in southern California. She was the president of ASHA in 1995.

dr judy montgomery

Dr. Judy Montgomery

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