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Communication and Autism: Using Visual Language

What is Visual Language?

Research tells us that children with autism are able to better communicate their wants and needs through images rather than words. With this knowledge, many autism therapy providers have started creating learning programs and software that focus on allowing children with autism to communicate with familiar and consistent images. This helps increase their understanding of basic communication and more easily communicate their wants, needs and emotions.  This “visual language” method of learning has proven incredibly successful in helping children with autism develop communication skills.

Using Visual Language to Communicate with Children Who Have Autism

Communication can be a major problem for families. It accounts for an estimated 60% of all family-related stress experienced on a daily basis. It is also the main reason that some children are slower to develop their social skills. By using visual communication tactics, families and autism therapy providers can give the child the tools they need to communicate their needs effectively. Once the child has these skills, it often alleviates many problems for families.

So, what are some of the visual communication techniques your child with autism can use?

1.) Dry Erase Board – The child can use a piece of paper or dry erase board to draw objects that symbolize their wants and needs.

2.) Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS) – this is when a child has several pre-made (and often laminated) cards with images that communicate everything from needing to go to the bathroom to requesting a snack and telling someone how they are feeling. The parent can than react or provide the item to fulfill the need they are expressing.

3.) Tablet – children can use communication software downloaded to a tablet such as an ipad and use the system similar to a PECS system. This allows children to select images that express their wants and needs in a way that a parent or adult can understand.

To learn more about visual communication and your child with autism, contact Lighthouse Autism Center at 574-387-4313.

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