You may be working with a child or an adult that uses an AAC communication device. Are you familiar with low-tech AAC devices?
According to Beukelman and Mirenda (2013), an estimated 1.3 percent of Americans cannot meet their daily needs communication needs using natural speech. Using low-tech AAC is one way to help children and adults with limited communication skills.
What is AAC?
AAC or Augmentative and Alternative Communication includes various methods of communication systems including communication devices, strategies and tools that helps a person communicate their wants, needs and thoughts specifically for children and adults who have limited communication skills.
What are the benefits of using AAC?
Studies show improvement in language development, literacy and communication among users including the use of picture exchange. There is also research that shows people working with an AAC are able to:
take turns appropriately
decrease challenging behavior
improve receptive and expressive skills.
Who uses an AAC?
Children with developmental delays including motor, cognitive and physical limitations including children and adults with:
Eat, Think and Speak– a blog written for medical Speech and Language Pathologist on topics relating to swallowing, communication and cognition. Provides a blog article on free low-tech material including a wide variety of premade communication boards
Project Core– Provide free sample lesson plans focusing on talking with one word at a time to using correct grammar and word order.
Signs and symptoms of Down syndrome is fairly easy to detect especially since there are specific physical characteristics of the disorder. But what if there is also a diagnosis of autism?
Studies show that 5 to 39% of children with Down syndrome are also on the autism spectrum. There are overlaps in some of the symptoms which delays the signs and symptoms of autism. This observation is slowly growing and informing parents and educators to observe for specific signs and symptoms.
It is possible that educators and therapist may be the first to notice that children with Down syndrome also display characteristics that are similar to autism.
Why is it important?
According to authors Margaret Froehlke and Robin Zaborek from the book, When Down Syndrome and Autism Intersect, The education approach in both Down syndrome and autism will be different than for children with a single diagnosis of Down syndrome including accommodations and writing the IEP. Teaching strategies will also differ. Teaching a student with Down syndrome who require tactile demonstrations, simple directions, and immediate feedback will now require concrete language, social stories, the use of few choices and the use of concrete language.
The importance of getting the diagnosis
Most often children with Down syndrome are treated for the characteristics of having Down syndrome which overlooks giving children the appropriate treatment for Autism such as social skills and sensory issues. A child or young adult with both diagnosis will likely experience aggressive behaviors, meltdowns, and show signs of regression during their early development. The following are signs and symptoms to look for in your child, or student:
Fascination with lights
Staring at ceiling fans
History of regression
Signs of overlap include:
As the student gets older, there may be ongoing issues with sensory disorders and transitions leading to meltdowns
Thanksgiving is the day set aside in the United States and Canada as a day of pausing to reflect all that we are thankful for by connecting with friends and family over good food. It is also the day of taking special precautions when serving people with developmental disabilities.
Aspiration is a huge risk during the holiday season. Factors that place people at risk for aspiration includes the following:
Being fed by someone else
Poor chewing or swallowing skills
Weak or absent coughing/gagging reflexes which is common in people with cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy
Eating to quickly
Inappropriate fluid consistency
Inappropriate food texture
For children and adults with autism, Thanksgiving may be a challenge for a variety of reasons:
Sensory and emotional overload with large groups
Difficulty with various textures of food
To help you mange Thanksgiving with ease, click on the articles below:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS) is considered one of the conditions affecting 2% to 4% of adults with Down syndrome and as they get older, the prevalence increases to 37% of men and 50% of women.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
It is a common disorder due to repetitive episodes of different breathing while sleeping due to upper airway collapse. The obstruction occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fails to keep the airway open.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs of obstructive sleep apnea in individuals with Down syndrome include:
Excessive daytime sleeping
Daytime mouth breathing
According the Down Syndrome Association, the following techniques will help with sleeping during the night:
a nightly routine at bedtime
a bedroom that is free of distractions (e.g. cut out any unwanted light or noise)
regular sleeping hours
regular exercise and activities
avoidance of caffeine and other stimulants in the evening