Welcome Back to Day Three of our 7 day series on The Best Therapies for Children With Autism. Today's topic is Augmentative Communication.
Augmentative Communication: Using DynaWrite for Autism Spectrum Disorder
On previous days we have discussed how it is better to focus on the overall broader goal of communciation as opposed to the narrower goal of speech. This naturally does not mean that we do not want children with autism to speak. Of course we do. It just means that we can use all means possible to encourage communication. DynaWrite is one of the best ways to do this.
DynaWrite is an amazingly complex speech output device. In my family, we call it the "talking machine." Basically, how it works is this: The child types their communication, and then hits a button labeled "speak." The computer digitized voice then speaks his sentence or paragraph aloud. Thus, the child has a "voice," in some cases for the very first time.
I decided to obtain the DynaWrite after seeing the interesting documentary entitled Autism Is A World, which was produced by a young adult college student with Autism. She is clearly very affected by the disorder but so intelligent and attends college. I thought the film was interesting because she had Autism but she still attended college and would go drinking with her therapists; (she was not underage.) I was also impressed that the girl with Autism Spectrum Disorder would go out to the horseraces as entertainment. The film inspired me and I bought the DynaWrite based upon my positive impression of the film and hope that the device could help my own son.
If you have a child that is very young and cannot type or read yet, then perhaps this amazing system could be integrated as part of their therapy in case that their speech does not wind up to be fully conversational. They could have DynaWrite as a fall back plan.
My own sixteen year old son is what could be described as "limited verbal." He can speak complete yet very simple sentences, and he speaks relatively clearly if the utterance is short. However, he has never spoken a paragraph, for example. He is not conversational. For longer utterances he relys on DynaWrite and in some cases he writes out his communication with a pencil and paper. He still seems to dislike and avoid speech. I really don't know why. Much about Autism Spectrum Disorder and Children With Autism remains mysterious.
The DynaWrite is expensive. Ours cost in the range of five thousand dollars. I just bought his out of pocket but many people have obtained funding through school districts or governmental funding. I do know that DynaWrite has helped us communicate with Daniel and I would recommend it for this reason. Maybe it could help your child also.