He’s not bad about expressing the basics of his needs, most of the time. He’ll use single words – “eat”, “drink”, “bed” – which usually expresses the gist of what he’s looking for… but getting to the specifics, and to a format that others’ll understand, is another matter.
And at eight years old, this is really starting to become a problem.
A while back, we started pushing for an Assistive Technology consult. There are other partially-verbal children with Autism who are helped by having a device to do the sentence construction for them, and it seems to be useful. While he was hosted in the public schools, there was a general resistance to getting him any such device or getting him the screening… and admittedly, our own trials with a program on his iPad just didn’t see to click. (He’s been more interested in playing other games with all the distractions that they entail, and even so, the program was just too expansive for him to be able to not be frustrated with it.)
But at Gateway, the staff’s been far more amenable to the idea of a non-verbal support. His SLP made an icon book for him, which he’s been working with a little bit at school and includes a very limited set of pictures for him to work through – basic verbs, a couple of objects, and smaller overlay flip pages for basic emotions and foods. We’ve had a little success at home with it, though the staff at the school have found that it has been more successful there.
And then we finally got the AT assessment that we’ve requested. The report for it arrived last week, and it is very clear that the assessor feels that he’d benefit from having an iPad with a limited pallet of choices to work with to build his ability with sentence structure. Moreover, it points out that when folks rush him, he tends to make random choices without looking, so there was a recommendation to just remind folks to give him time to form his thoughts. We’ll be going over the assessment with the IEP team in a week and a half, and I imagine we’ll find a receptive crowd there to getting him set up PDQ.
Anything that has him communicating for himself is a good thing.