May 16th

For many people with autism, communicating can be very difficult. They may struggle to use spoken words to express their thoughts, needs, and feelings. That’s where assistive communication devices can come in handy!

What are Assistive Communication Devices?

Assistive communication devices are special tools that help people communicate in different ways besides speaking. Some look like tablets or computers with pictures, symbols, or text that the user can point to or press. Others use eye tracking or head tracking so the user can select things just by looking at them.

When someone can’t communicate well through speech, these devices allow them to get their message across by typing, touching pictures, or using other methods. It makes it much easier for them to let others know what they want or need.

How Do They Help People with Autism?

Many individuals with autism have challenges with verbal communication and social interaction. An assistive device can be a game changer by providing an alternative way for them to express themselves.

With pictures, symbols, text-to-speech, and other features, these devices give non-speaking or minimally verbal people with autism a “voice.” They can use the device to ask for things, share information, tell stories, and have back-and-forth conversations.

The devices can be customized with the person’s common words, phrases, images, schedules, and more. This makes communication quicker and tailored just for them.

Getting Devices to Those in Need

Many schools, therapy centers, and organizations are working hard to provide assistive communication devices and training to people with autism and other communication disorders. However, these devices can be very expensive.

There are programs that help cover the costs for families that cannot afford the devices. Funding may come from private health insurance, government services like Medicaid, or grants and loans. With the right device, countless people with autism are finally able to communicate their thoughts and needs more easily.

Communication is so important, and assistive technology is opening up new worlds for people with autism. Having a way to get their message across can make a huge positive difference in their lives.

Some Specific examples: 

Here are five specific examples of assistive communication devices for people with autism, along with brief descriptions and how to obtain them:

Proloquo2Go by AssistiveWare – This is an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) app for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch that provides a full-featured speech solution. It uses symbols, text, and natural-sounding voices to help users communicate. Available for purchase on the App Store.

NOVA Chat by Saltillo Corporation – A dedicated speech generating device with levels to meet a range of abilities. It has a durable design with customizable vocabulary and access methods like touch, switch, or eye gaze. Can be obtained through insurance funding or purchased directly.

GoTalk Pocket by Attainment Company – A simple and portable low-tech AAC device with a built-in speaker that allows users to record and playback messages. Different models offer varying message capacities. Can be purchased directly from Attainment Company’s website.

TouchChat HD by Saltillo Corporation – An AAC app for iPad with a wide range of vocabulary and the ability to create personalized communication pages. Designed for individuals with autism, Down syndrome, and other disabilities. Available on the App Store.

LAMP Words for Life by Prentke Romich Company – A comprehensive AAC app and program that teaches language development through consistent motor patterns and a unique vocabulary organization. Requires training and can be funded through insurance.

By providing alternative means of expression through text, symbols, recorded audio and synthesized speech output, these AAC devices open up communication for non-verbal or minimally verbal individuals with autism.

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