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BellaOnline's Autism Spectrum Disorders Editor

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Communication Tools for Nonverbal Autism Community


My thirteen year-old son Matthew is nonverbal and utilizes the Go Talk 9+ communication device. With Speech therapy services taking place this school year along with the weekly compensatory sessions at a clinic the consistency between both is coming together.

At therapy a bingo board that has pictures on it is used with individual cards that match those on the board. Matthew is presented with cards and has to press the button yes or no for whether that is a match for the board.

When I want to pass along a message to the teacher and aide about a therapy session or what took place at the Sunday KEEN session I have been recording messages into the Weekend News Talking Card I received from Say It With Symbols. There is about 12-15 seconds for a recorded message. I usually wait until late at night to record the message to tune out other sounds before placing it in Matthew's backpack.

There is a "3x5" slot for a picture to be inserted at the front of the card. I have shared when Matthew lost a tooth, tried a new food item at dinner and when we visited the Zoo. One of these Weekend News Talking Cards was donated as a prize for an autism twitter event I hosted. I also received one free of charge as well. I have mentioned their site previously in Holiday Cards and Ornaments and Halloween Picture Cards.

I purchased the Super Symbols Icon talk years ago on eBay and have not really utilized it as it seems more suitable for a classroom environment or therapy session. The strap is really long to wear around your neck with all red cards laminated and bound. Matthew is very tactile and likes to touch the system whenever I have it out.

A few years ago I picked up a talking photo album that has a ten second message for all of the twenty-four "4x6" photos for Matthew. This is the same one sold at Mayer-Johnson where you can also purchase Boardmaker.

Initially you will need a screwdriver to open the battery compartment for two AAA batteries that come with the Talking Photo Album. The microphone is built in with a play button located within each plastic sheet that holds the photos. We have never been able to open the battery compartment with our smallest screwdriver either, so this is being used without the talking feature. This is a great concept but cannot be fully utilized in my household.

There is also Picture Planner which is a picture-based scheduling system that provides a simplified tool for time management and activity planning. I plan on utilizing the demo with Nicholas to help him learn some planning and organizing skills.

I recently learned of Say-It! SAM, which is a hand-held communication device. This is Medicare approved. "Includes over 6,500 color Mayer-Johnson, Inc. Picture Communication Symbols on both CD-ROM and 128MB memory card"

Another new product for the nonverbal community is TapToTalk. "TapToTalk gives a non-verbal child a voice with the tap of a picture. It turns a handheld Nintendo DSi or DS Lite into an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device". twitter page.

Back in March my son Nick and I went to the free exhibitor day at the CSUN Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference. This is where I first saw and heard of VizZle. Awhile after the conference I noticed VizZle on twitter.

VizZle has a searchable library of lessons that range from state-standard academics to personal hygiene, matching boards, game-boards, interactive books and a visual language lab. There is also lesson tracking, customized token boards, timers plus first-then boards.

While at the Conference we watched a demo of the Smart Talk device. This is something I see for Matthew's future that is reasonably priced compared to some other products. The style is sleek with a handle and you can program the overlays on the computer plus there is a carrying case and the rechargeable battery. There are eight messages per level with eleven seconds available per message.

We have had some issues with the Go Talk 9+ and low battery. Neither the school or therapy clinic changed the battery until the AAC consultant from LAUSD visited and changed the battery.




Try Vizzle Free

Boardmaker Trials and Demos

Twitter page for Mayer-Johnson

Online Training

Technology and the Special Needs Child - Woodsmall Law Group


Educational Autism Tips for Families 71 page resourceful ebook for families entering the school system with a recent autism diagnosis. Find out what issues take place over the course of a school day and meet these challenges head on.



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Communication Resources for PECS
Communication Devices for Non Verbal Children
Purposeful Communication Techniques
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Content copyright © 2014 by Bonnie Sayers. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Bonnie Sayers. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Bonnie Sayers for details.

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