1999 Conference Proceedings

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 1999 Conference Table of Contents

Ways to Let and Make You Talk

Janie Cirlot-New, M.S., CCC/SLP
Jill T. Ethridge, OTR/L
T. K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability
P.O. Box 9736
Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762
(601) 325-1028

Communication begins in the first months of life and progresses through many stages. During the first months of development, undifferentiated crying becomes a more varied cry to indicate hunger, sleep and other needs. This soon turns to cooing and the first vowel sounds by approximately 3 months of age. Additional vowels and consonant sounds emerge throughout the next months. The following stages lead to imitation of sounds, babbling, and the development of one, two, and three word phrases.

During the progression of language development, the child learns through imitation and practice that he can control his environment and communicate his desires and needs to others. This is the time when the groundwork for basic expressive communication is initiated. By providing a child with adequate opportunities and experiences for using and refining skills, more sophisticated skills begin to develop. Developmental domains such as social/emotional, cognitive, and self-help along with literacy (reading and writing) development are affected.

Research and clinical experience has shown that children with severe motor, visual and auditory problems typically have expressive communication delays or deficits. These children are often times not provided the same opportunities and experiences necessary for the development of expressive communication skills.

Through the use of assistive technology that is appropriately matched to the child's specific needs, physical and communication participation can occur. The only prerequisite to communication (Beukelman, 1998) is participation. In order to develop communication skills individuals must have a reason to communicate, something to communicate about, and someone with whom to communicate.

By providing an environment that allows and encourages active participation developmental progress is facilitated. Intervention at an early age can significantly impact the overall developmental and educational outcomes of the sensory and motor impaired child. In the initial stages of the intervention process, it is crucial that an appropriate assessment be completed by experienced clinicians to adequately measure the child's abilities. Developing functional outcomes that address the child's beginning communication needs while also considering future needs is crucial for transitioning into educational settings. Achievable objectives for permitting consistent participation within the home, social, and educational settings is necessary for reaching these desired outcomes.

This presentation will focus on techniques and methods of acceptable practice for appropriately applying and selecting assistive technologies for children with expressive communication problems. Contributing factors to address during the assessment and intervention stages of selecting assistive technology for specific sensory impairments will be covered. Setting appropriate goals and functional outcomes and suggestions will be discussed in depth. Appropriate and clear expressive communication goals and objectives are imperative and necessary in order to select appropriate technologies. Case studies with video footage demonstrating evaluation techniques and utilization of appropriately applied technology will be presented.

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 1999 Conference Table of Contents 
Return to Table of Proceedings

Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright.