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Communication Systems for Children With ASD

Communication Systems for Children With ASD

Communication Strategies: Sign Language

There are important gestures in the English language. More often than not, teachers say hello to students while waving or even place a finger on their mouth to quiet a class or point a direction with their finger to ensure the students follow what they are pointing at with their eyes. According to Shelton (2016), even though autistic students have skills in verbal communication, sign language can be very effective in supporting their communication. This is because, for instance, at times of overwhelming frustration, autistic students may find it hard to express their wants and needs (Shelton, 2016). In this case, encouraging them to express their feelings through sign language can hinder behaviors from intensifying faster.

The challenge of using this communication strategy with children with ASD is that it needs extensive planning and thinking. Teachers have to know how to encourage their students to use sign language and, at the same time, learn how to select the appropriate signs (Shelton, 2016). The selection of signs for usage must be carefully made. If a teacher chooses many signs very quickly, the young students may respond with overwhelming and confusing feelings (Shelton, 2016). Therefore, teachers must carefully choose one or two signs at a time and monitor the students’ responses. Once they notice that the students are comfortable using the selected few signs, new signs can then be introduced. According to Shelton (2016), teachers are encouraged to start with the signs that would have regular use in class, such as please, more, and help. This will give students more opportunities to exercise sign language. The benefits of using sign language are that it makes it easier for children with ASD to communicate with other people, and it increases the probability of the development of verbal skills (Haney, 2012)

Sign language strategy may be beneficial for a child with ASD because many persons with ASD have the advantage of visually processing information. Therefore, gestures and signs are easier to prompt than verbal utterances (Haney, 2012). Besides, Haney (2012) adds that signs provide a more concrete means of communication

Compared to a sign language strategy, a roll-a-response strategy assists children with ASD in comprehending conversational turn-taking (Shelton, 2016). In sign language strategy, a child may be confused by the new sign because they may be overwhelmed or feel like they are still processing the new sign. The out-of-the-box strategy is another system that helps a child with ASD communicate. It helps children with ASD to visualize a link between the topic of discussion and their speech (Shelton, 2016). It also assists them in establishing attention to the task at hand (Shelton, 2012). However, this system requires a keen evaluation of high-interest questions to pose to the students.


Haney, M.R. (2012). Understanding Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: EDUCATORS Partnering with Families. California: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Shelton, T. (2016). Practical Strategies for Supporting Young Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Gryphon House.


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Communication Strategies

This week you will explore some of the communication systems that may be utilized by children with ASD. Begin by selecting one of the following communication strategies:

Communication Systems for Children With ASD

Communication Systems for Children With ASD

sign language
a voice output communication device
a symbol system (such as the Picture Exchange Communication System)
Then respond to the following:

Explain how your selected communication strategy relates to ASD.
Discuss research on the effectiveness of this strategy.
Discuss the pros and cons of the system you have chosen.
Explain why it would be beneficial for a child with ASD.

Analyze some of the pros and cons of communication systems that may be encountered when working with children with ASD.
It also addresses the following Course Outcomes:
Analyze the differences in communication skills with children with autism spectrum disorder.

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