Augmentative Communication:
Applications and Practical Strategies for Children who have Rett Syndrome


Linda J. Burkhart


Why use Augmentative Communication with Children who have Rett Syndrome?


Key Components for the Success with Augmentative Communication


1. Receptive before Expressive: Language must go in before it can come out


Joint Attention and Shared Interaction


Natural Aided Language Stimulation:

2. The Use of Active Learning is much more effective than Passive Learning


Requesting Recurrence

Calling and Initiating Communication:

Where do you begin? Figure out what the child really likes or would most likely want to do and start with that activity (ex; tickle, bounce, juice, swing, bubbles, Mommy's song, silly noises, etc.)

Follow the child's direction or lead: empowering the child and giving her the control.

Provide Simple Choices


Utilize eye-gaze as a communication strategy:


Respond with Natural Consequences:


Keep questions and extraneous language to a minimum

Expect delayed processing time


Reduce motor demands


Minimize random activations

Allow the child to withdraw and center and then continue at his own pace, kids learn in short spurts.


Self directed repetition (difference between getting bored with something and assimilating something)


Provide child with natural multiple opportunities by responding with small amounts of what was requested or actions of short duration.

Social Scripts (Caroline Musselwhite)


Additional strategies for Motivation to Communicate:


3. Children most effectively learn to use augmentative communication through the same methods that they learn to use verbal communication - through modeling in natural and functional contexts.

Integrate communication with play

Early Interaction (sharing play/toy with an adult or other child)

"Show" Stage


Turn Taking

Expanding Language and Concepts


Pretend and symbolic play



4. The use of multiple communication systems is vastly more effective than use of a single system.

Sign Language

Selecting Picture Symbols for Beginners


Designing Communication Boards and Overlays for Voice-output Devices

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Linda J. Burkhart / linda@Lindaburkhart.com
http://www.Lburkhart.com