Read and Spell Blog

How to make use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for learners with autism

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and autism

Augmentative and alternative communication is a general term used to refer to approaches, strategies, and tools, that enable children and adults with autism and speech and language disorders to communicate their wants, needs, thoughts, and emotions.

Augmentative and alternative communication is not appropriate for everyone with a speech or language disorder, but may be useful for people with apraxia of speech, stroke-related dysphasia and dysarthria, and other conditions that affect written expression and/or control of the muscles of the face, throat and mouth, such as cerebral palsy.

Sign language, pen and paper, and hand gestures are basic forms of augmentative and alternative communication, as is using a chart and pointing to pictures, letters, words or symbols.

Alternatives to speech can be as high-tech as specially fitted devices which allow people to communicate using custom buttons and pressure sensors, or as everyday as children and adults making use of a laptop computer and smartphone to meet their communication needs. On a computer or mobile device, written language can either be typed and displayed on screen or typed and read aloud by an automatized voice facilitated by text-to-speech technology.

Which modifications can most help students with Down syndrome

Modifications for students with Down syndrome

Some learners with Down syndrome attend special schools where they are taught a specific curriculum and have lesson content and delivery adapted for their needs. Others may learn at home or as part of a co-op.

However, it’s increasingly common for children to enrol in their local education system where they can study alongside non-Down syndrome peers. There are a number of benefits to this, including the ability to enhance a student’s sense of independence, foster stronger ties within the community, and assist a learner in developing social skills. It may also prepare young-adults and teens for volunteer/work opportunities later on, and can generally be more convenient and financially practical for families.

But when a learner with Down syndrome joins a regular class, this also means that certain teaching approaches and exercises may need to be modified in order to ensure the student gets the maximum benefit from his or her studies.

This program is working great. We are using it for our 6 year old and he is enjoying it. He wants to "do my typing" each day. Our 4 year old daughter watches with keen interest. The way it is designed really does include reading and spelling and not just typing. –

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Apraxia vs. aphasia: What’s the difference?

Apraxia vs. aphasia: What’s the difference?

Both apraxia of speech and aphasia affect an individual’s ability to communicate – they just do so in different ways. Apraxia makes it hard to coordinate muscle movements and put sounds in the right order to produce intelligible speech. It may also impact on speech planning. Individuals can struggle with consonant clusters, rhythm, and stress, and may generally experience difficulties with aspects related to the prosody of language.

On the other hand, aphasia is about language retrieval and recognition. People with aphasia or dysphasia may not be able to find the words they need to express themselves in speech or in writing, or they might use the wrong words and not realize it. Additionally, individuals with receptive aphasia don’t always understand what other people are saying and can finding listening and reading challenging.

If aphasia and apraxia of speech are the result of a stroke, a person may also experience difficulties with enunciation, referred to as dysarthria. This can present as trouble controlling the volume levels of speech, excessive drooling, or problems getting enough air while speaking. Dysarthria is caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles of the lips, tongue, throat and face.

helping students in special education

3 Ways to help students in special education

There a number of reasons why a child may need to attend a special education program at school. Special education can help learners who struggle with developmental delays, such as dyspraxia or apraxia of speech, and/or children who experience challenges with literacy and numeracy because of a specific learning difference. Learners with autism can benefit.

It may also be that a physical impairment is affecting a student’s ability to learn in the same way as his or her peers and specific accommodations and materials are necessary. The basic requirement for a program to be considered special education is that it must address the individual learner’s needs in a way that wouldn’t be possible in a mainstream classroom. But just because a child receives extra support, it doesn't mean they are less intelligent or talented than their peers.

Which exercises can help with regaining speech after a stroke

Regaining speech after a stroke

Communication difficulties following a stroke can take many forms. You may experience trouble finding the right word or have problems processing language that is directed at you – these conditions are commonly referred to as aphasia/dysphasia. When you struggle with speaking it’s referred to as productive aphasia and with understanding it’s receptive aphasia.

Aphasia and dysphasia are almost the same thing, except dysphasia is when you have partial access to language and aphasia is when you have none. Some individuals who have had a stroke find speaking difficult because of challenges with annunciation; this is called dysarthria. Speaking and breathing at the same time, or swallowing, may also be problematic with dysarthria.

It’s possible for paralysis, hemiplegia – one-sided paralysis - or hemiparesis - weakness on one side of the body following a stroke - to interrupt written modes of communication such as writing or typing. But just as every individual is unique, so is their recovery and it can be hard to put an exact estimate on the time it will take to regain communicative ability and/or how fully it will return.

Many people see the greatest gains in the first six weeks, as swelling in the brain goes down, and language processing areas which were temporarily affected come back online. However, it’s possible to see improvements for years after a stroke, particularly if an individual continues to receive speech therapy to strengthen and reinforce communication skills and confidence.

The best Down syndrome blogs to follow

6 Down syndrome blogs to follow

For families who are just embarking on their journey, blogs are a good place to start. That’s because they give you a way to move beyond the medical facts and statistics your doctors might discuss with you and discover the practical and emotional sides of raising a child with Down syndrome. You can engage with the blogs' authors, join in on-going discussions with other readers, and learn more about families who are on a similar path to yours.

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that occurs when a child is born with an extra copy of chromosome 21. In the past, it was assumed that children with Down syndrome would not benefit from early access to education. Thankfully today we understand that with the right support, these very special children can go on to lead rich and fulfilling lives.

Exchanging ideas and sharing tips and anecdotes can help you gain much needed perspective and provide support when you need it most. Blogs also serve as a platform for circulating the latest resources and research, and getting behind local and national causes. That’s why we’re sharing our list of the top Down syndrome blogs in 2018. We hope you’ll give them a read! With the right guidance, care and accommodations, every child with Down syndrome can go on to achieve great things.

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What to expect for aphasia recovery time following a stroke

Aphasia recovery time following a stroke

One of the most common symptoms following a stroke is a disruption to language and communicative ability. This is a condition referred to as aphasia or dysphasia. The name aphasia implies a total loss of language, as compared to dysphasia, which is partial loss.

Nonetheless, the two terms are used somewhat interchangeably with dysphasia more common in Europe and the UK. Aphasia is a result of trauma to the brain, including when brain cells are deprived of oxygen or sustain damage due to internal bleeding. It can result in difficulty finding and retrieving words, producing intelligible speech, negotiating syntax (grammar), and sometimes even understanding what other people are saying.

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Dysarthria vs. Aphasia

Dysarthria vs. aphasia

While both dysarthria and aphasia can affect an individual’s ability to produce fluent and intelligible speech, they have very different causes. Dysarthria is an umbrella term used for disorders that impact the muscles used in speaking, including the lips, tongue, throat, vocal cords and diaphragm.

It causes a wide range of symptoms including breathy and nasal speech, drooling, uneven starts and stops, irregular volume, intonation and emphasis, and unclear articulation of words. Unlike brain-based conditions, language comprehension skills are typically not affected. On the other hand, aphasia is the result of injury to the brain. It has to do with understanding and producing language and symptoms will depend on the location and severity of the brain damage.

Some kinds of stroke therapy can be done at home

Stroke therapy at home

According to the Stroke Association in the United Kingdom and the American Stroke Association, there are over 8.2 million stroke survivors in the UK and the US. Many of these individuals undertake daily rehab activities in their own homes, either independently, or with the help of a friend, family carer or a trained specialist.

Stroke rehabilitation is many things including physical treatments that aim to improve gross and fine motor skills, language drills to restore communicative abilities, cognitive training to strengthen memory, occupational therapy to help with the performance of everyday tasks, and even emotional therapy to deal with any issues of depression or isolation that arise in the aftermath of a stroke.

What's the difference between aphasia, dysphasia and dysarthria

What’s the difference between aphasia, dysphasia and dysarthria?

It can be difficult to distinguish between conditions with similar sounding names, particularly when they are co-occurring or have closely related symptoms. This is often the case for aphasia, dysphasia and dysarthria, disorders which affect speech and language use.

What makes them different is the nature and amount of disruption to communicative abilities. In aphasia and dysphasia the brain may have experienced some kind of trauma, due to a head injury or stroke, and as a result, there are problems with language use. Disruptions may be on the productive side (speech/writing) or primarily affect receptive abilities (comprehension).

On the other hand, dysarthria is a disruption to the muscles that are used to produce speech. It does not affect a person’s understanding of the meaning behind words or an individual’s ability to manipulate syntax (grammar).

Jobs for people with Down syndrome

Jobs for people with Down syndrome

A growing number of adults with Down syndrome enjoy greater independence and enhanced skills development today thanks in part to employment opportunities. Having a job builds confidence for people with Down syndrome, whether it is a paid or volunteer position.

It’s also a good way to increase awareness of learning difficulties among the general public, especially when it comes to showing the many talents these very capable and special individuals possess.

From working as baristas in community coffee shops to taking positions in national chains, handling the front desk at offices, or working with their hands in the great outdoors, people with Down syndrome can thrive in a wide range of positions when they have the support, drive and skills they need to perform the job.