Recent Coverage Of The Lab’s Work In The Press
Dr. Aaron Shield participated in December in the Consortium of Autism and Sign Language , which met at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, MA. In this talk, titled Testing the Precision Hypothesis: The USE Model, he introduced a new model of autistic language, which reframes the way that people with autism communicate from a strengths-based perspective.
Dr. Shield presenting at CASL
He also presented two posters at the Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research conference in January in Melbourne, Australia.
Dr. Shield at one of the posters with his collaborator, Frances Cooley, a graduate student in linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin
Where Does Key Word Sign Come From
In Australia, Key Word Sign was previously known as Makaton. Makaton was developed in England in the early 1970s by speech therapist Margaret Walker with the help of Kathy Johnston and Tony Cornforth. It was introduced to Australia in 1977 by Anne Cooney, an Australian speech pathologist.
The principles of Key Word Sign are used around the world under different names, including Makaton, Sign Supported Speech, Signalong and Lamh.
Teaching Generalization And Spontaneous Communication Skills
49Many early attempts to foster language development in children with autism reported the successful teaching of a substantial vocabulary of words or signs. These communication intervention programs typically emphasized the childrens production of the correct words or signs in response to discrete stimuli such as real objects, pictures, or teachers prompts. A serious limitation to this approach is that children with ASD frequently experience difficulty in generalizing newly acquired words or signs to new instances of a concept or to new settings. As a result, they often would use their words or signs only in the structured learning environment in which they were taught and only for the items specifically trained. This outcome is problematic because the goal of most communication programs is for the learner to use words or signs to express needs and wants and to make requests in a variety of settings to a number of different persons. These children also were frequently passive, with their language or communication characterized by a lack of spontaneity .
- 9 For more information on these practices, see the Recommendations for Enhancing the Sign-Learning E
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Pros Of Sign Language For Children With Autism
Signing has a number of benefits for autistic kids, besides the obvious one that theyll be able to express themselves.
- More spontaneous communication: children will be more likely to communicate without prompting
- Better social skills: they may pay more attention to the social cues of others
- Less aggression and meltdowns: these behaviors are often caused by frustration at being unable to communicate
- Less depression and anxiety: likewise, kids with autism are likely to be happier when they can make themselves understood
- Less reliance on auditory processing: this skill is hard for many autistic children, so signing may be easier to understand
What Does Key Word Sign Involve
Key Word Sign uses hand signs to represent the main or key words in a sentence. You use the hand signs at the same time as you speak.
Key Word Sign is often used along with other AAC systems like photos or pictures. This is called total communication or multi-modal communication. This is the approach typically used with autistic people.
Key Word Sign uses signs from Auslan, which is the language used by deaf Australians. But Key Word Sign is not a full sign language like Auslan. Auslan has a different word order from spoken English and isnt recommended for hearing children with language delay, speech disorders or communication disorders.
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Should We Teach Children With Autism Sign Language
Children with autism often have deficits in language and communication skills. According to Autism Speaks Inc. , these may manifest in the inability to speak for almost 40% of children diagnosed with autism. Sign language involves the usage of manual hand signs and movements to represent objects and concepts, and thus presents as an alternative communication system which might be beneficial for nonverbal or limitedly-verbal children with autism. Here, we examine the main advantages of teaching children with autism sign language, before noting some of its limitations.
1. It is easy to pick up
2. It reduces problematic behaviours
Children with autism often experience meltdowns and challenging behaviours due to the inability to communicate their needs effectively, or the lack of understanding of their surroundings. For example, crying and screaming to attain something they want or feeling overwhelmed by verbal speech directed towards them. For these children, carrying out such challenging behaviours allows them to express their needs. When the caregiver attends to them, they can then assess possible reasons for certain behaviour. Sign language offers a functional and socially-acceptable way for children with autism to express a need, while also saving the need for caregivers to guess what they require.
3. It facilitates speech and vocabulary acquisition
Autism And Sign Language Step : Practice Practice Practice
Work on signing with your child every chance you get. Every activity, every meal time and every family outing is a chance to build your childs communication skills and to increase family fun and interaction. Dont let these learning oppurtunities slip through your fingers! You have the power to teach your child to communicate with you.
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If Youre Ready To Take The First Steps Heres List Of How To Get Started:
Learning sign language on your own will be difficult, although not impossible given the endless resources available online. If you find yourself stuck and in need of guidance, consider asking for help. TakeLessons has numerous ASL instructors that are available to support your sign language learning needs. You can also reach out to other parents like yourself through social media platforms, or contact local organizations in your area to see if they offer sign language classes. Whatever path you choose, youre making the right decision to learn ASL.
Benefits Of Sign Language For Autism
One of the most common symptoms of autism is difficulty with speech and language. Autism spectrum disorder is, well, a spectrum, so these difficulties may look very different for each autistic child. Some can speak fluently, while others will always be nonverbal.
As a parent, you desperately want to communicate with your childto understand their needs, wants, and emotions. This is harder when your child cant speak out loud, but not impossible. There are a range of ways for autistic people to communicate non-vocally, including sign language.
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Is Sign Language For Everyone
While some children on the spectrum might benefit, others may not. This is purely based on the fact that everyone is different, and we learn in different ways. Some people are auditory learners, while others are visual, physical, or reading- and writing- based learners. It is important to understand that not all children with autism are visual learners. There are many communication tools that can be used to help children on the spectrum communicate, such as apps, computer programs, and even music.
Sign Language Provides A Way To Communicate To The 25% Of Autistic Individuals Who May Never Be Verbal
It is estimated that about 25% of the autistic population will never develop any form of verbal communication. For those children who will not be able to learn spoken language, sign language will be an invaluable asset that gives them a way to communicate and express themselves, while also connecting them to a greater community of individuals who use sign language to communicate.
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Research Shows Asl Can Benefit Children Who Have Autism
Sign language is not only helpful, but benefits children with autism. Researchers consider sign language to be an effective practice to use with children with autism, because its a common communication tool that offers an alternative to speech, along with other communication systems .
According to researchers, non-verbal children with autism can acquire sign language similar to how typical children develop vocal-verbal language. Evidence suggests that children with autism can learn and imitate sign language through modeling, even without direct teaching. Further, researchers note that sign language, along with vocal prompting, may incite vocal responses in children with developmental disabilities who are minimally vocal.
Other research suggests the use of picture communication systems along with sign language provide an option for children not ready or unable to learn speech. Because speech deficits are common to children with autism, exposure to sign language is vital to communication.
As mentioned in Basic Baby Sign Language, learning sign language benefits all children by increasing vocabulary and self-esteem, promoting easier communication and earlier speech, and reducing frustration. Additionally, according to researchers, incorporating sign language has:
expanded the communication repertoires of children with autism
worked better as a treatment than speech alone
helped improve speech discrimination
led to superior, faster, and more complete learning
Sign Language For Children With Autism
Children with autism have a hard time connecting spoken words to objects. Your child may often be frustrated because he cannot communicate effectively. As a parent, you may become frustrated with behaviors your child uses to get his point across. Teaching signed words to your child can give him a way to make his needs known in a more socially acceptable manner.
Using sign language with your child may help develop open communication skills. It can provide a way for him to communicate his needs that is not crying or throwing tantrums, thus little by little eliminating stressful behaviors and promoting more effective communication.
Though everyone is different, children on the spectrum might benefit from Signing Exact English or SEE signing. American Sign Language has very different sentence structuring then SEE signing. In American Sign Language the sentence structure goes from subject to verb, then object with SEE signing, sentence structure follows the rules of the English language.
Spoken sentence: The fox jumped over the lazy dog.
SEEThe fox jumped over the lazy dog.
ASLFox jump over dog, dog lazy.
Some Signs To Get You Started
If signing is something you are considering, here are a few signs to get you and your child started.
Eat Make your fingers touch your thumb like you would do if you were making a sock puppet talk and tap on your bottom lip. Dont forget to say the word Food or Eat as well as showing them a picture of food. You can practice this during dinner or lunch.
Drink Pretend you are holding a cup and tip the imaginary cup towards your mouth to sign Drink
More Shape your hands as if you were eating a sandwich and bring the tips of your fingers together.
More resources on sign language:
Autism And Sign Language Step : Teach A Simple Way To Ask For The Desired Item
The goal is to give your child a very simple way to ask for what he or she wants. My favorite way to do this is to teach a simple, adapted ASL sign. Based on my years of experience owning my center for children with autism, I have put together a list of the 9 most common first signs we teach to children with ASD based on general interests and level of difficulty. You can download it for free here.
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Safe Hand Kid Safety Stickers Here
Safe Hand Kid Safety Stickers will help keep your kids safer in parking areas when they enter or exit your vehicle by providing them with a fun, safe place to stand. Stick the car decal on your car and teach your kids to put their hands on the Safe Hand. Reduces the desire to play or stray while you complete loading and unloading other children, groceries, and other items.
These stickers are easy to use and come in a variety of colorful colors and designs hearts, rainbows, and smileys that are ideal for a childs lively imagination. Your child can choose his or her favorite! In the center of the stickers is a picture of the ASL sign for I Love You, which children can place their hands on to remind them every time that you love them enough to keep them safe.
Follow Your Non Vocal Childs Motivation To Sign
Your child will be most motivated to learn the words that match their wants and ideas. Youll need to model signs to teach sign language to your non vocal child with autism. You might be wondering when you should model signs, and how often? Watch and listen to your child during motivating routines and play activities so that you know what they are most interested in from moment to moment. Look for the ways that your child already communicates with you during these activities.
For example, maybe your child always walks in and out of the kitchen right around lunch time each day. Or perhaps your child takes your hand and pulls you to the door when it is time to go for your daily walk together. Saying the words and showing the signs that go along with your childs intentions in these moments will have the biggest impact on building your childs inventory of signs. Watch and listen carefully to find new ways in which your child may be communicating their wants and ideas in different situations so that you can increase your opportunities to model words and signs more and more over time.
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Is Asl Helpful For Children With Autism
Do you have a child or family member with autism or know someone who does? You may be wondering What is the best way to communicate with a child who has autism? What are the impacts of using sign language with children who have autism? Are there advantages? If so, what are they?
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a lifelong developmental disability, typically appearing in childhood, that impacts communication , behavior, interactions, and social skills, and can manifest in various types and symptoms. Professionals and parents treating and caring for children and adults with autism have been known to use sign language to communicate.
American Sign Language benefits more than just the Deaf community. Minimally vocal and non-verbal children who are hearing also need access to effective forms of communication. ASL can benefit children with various disabilities, such as communication impairments, learning delays, non-verbal needs, and autism.
Autism In Sign Language
Sign language can help you achieve your communication goals while also instilling confidence in your autistic student/child. While also providing a tool to assist you with your Autism verbal and nonverbal communication needs.
How should autism be signed? Theres no need to go looking for a pen and paper while trying to figure out how its signed. Scroll down and follow along with the video for a quick and easy lesson.
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Asking Questions With Basic Sign Language Words
A single word question can keep a conversation flowing and help you get to know others. An important part of asking questions with sign language is using your face to look inquisitive while you sign. When asking a yes or no question, the eyebrows are raised. With questions that may incur a more detailed response, the eyebrows are lowered.
The following video guide from Victoria, an ASL teacher, covers many important phrases, including basic questions like these!
Other Sign Language Fundamentals
If youre new to ASL, there are some important facts you should know about signing. First off, ASL goes beyond hand gestures alone facial expressions and body language also play a critical role in communication. For example, weve seen that you use your eyebrows when asking a question.
Next, you should know that ASL is not used worldwide. Other sign styles such as British Sign Language differ in many important ways, although its still possible for some trans-lingual signers to communicate in a basic form. Cultures around the world have developed their own ways to communicate via sign, and its interesting to learn how people communicate in languages other than ASL.
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Asl Basic Sentences Here
These Sign Language Basic Sentences are designed for non-verbal students and others who use American Sign Language as their primary mode of communication or those that just want to learn. These sign language printable cards teach an English sentence and the ASL sentence to help build sentence structure between the two languages. These basic sentences and phrases are created to teach students how to communicate in full sentences their wants, needs, and opinions through English sentences and Sign Language.
S To Teach Your Child With Autism To Communicate Using Adapted Sign Language
Thanks to Alix for sharing todays information. As a play therapist & former teacher myself, I see how important it is to educated families so they can help their children as much as possible. Alex is the owner of the Le Chemin ABA Learning House, a center in the heart of Paris, France, for children with autism and other special needs. Today she is sharing 7 Steps to teach your child with autism to communicate using adapted sign language. Take it away, Alix..
Parents of children with autism are often frustrated by the lack of communication that is a signature trait of an autism diagnosis. Parents crave interaction and communication with their children. These 7 steps will help you teach your child with autism to communicate using adapted sign language and help you increase interaction, communication and fun at home.
Children who are not yet communicating often have high levels of frustration and a long list of challenging behaviors that are the result of not being able to request what they want.
When a new family comes to my center, one of the first things we put in place is an adapted communication system to make sure that the child has a clear way to ask for what he or she wants. Increased communication is directly related to less frustration and more family interaction, happiness and fun.
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