Building a Strong Vocabulary through AAC in the Special Needs Schools of NYC

For the students on the autism spectrum, good language skills are important for effective communication. They also help to perform well in school as well as in life. Good language skills can only be acquired if the vocabulary is strong. Special needs schools in NYC thereby work actively to help autistic students facing learning challenges build a strong vocabulary through AAC.

AAC or Augmentative Alternative Communication includes the ways in which a person or child may communicate.

The language framework of AAC includes the following key aspects which are components of a strong vocabulary:

· Alphabets

With an enhanced access to alphabets, children on the spectrum are able to spell correctly.

Supports like prediction of letters, words or phrases, expansion of abbreviations as well as correction of grammar and spelling that enhance access to alphabets are used in the schools for special children.

· Words

These are the most frequently used words that constitute more than 80% of the common verbal language used by people in everyday conversations.

Special needs schools of NYC help autistic children build a robust base for the frequently used words that can be recycled in many different situations and applications.

· Vocabulary Improvement

As children with special needs acquire newer skills, their ability to add more words to their vocabulary gets enhanced.

In terms of AAC, this aspect is related to how successfully these children are able to comprehend and process new words.

Children can thus go from lesser number of buttons to more buttons per page on their electronic AAC devices.

· Grammar

AAC lets a child go from, “Yesterday, I sleep on time and today I sleep on time too” to “Yesterday, I slept on time and today I will sleep on time too.”

Grammar lessons help in improving the ability of a special child to communicate in coherent and grammatically correct language.

· Pre-programmed messages

These are messages played in situations which require quick communication like in everyday social interactions and most importantly, during emergencies. Commonly, the electronic AAC devices that can produce digitized voice outputs form an integral part of the daily activities at the special needs schools of NYC.

· Motor Planning

It is essentially the ability to access ones’ vocabulary using muscle memory.

Special schools in New York help children on the spectrum build a strong vocabulary by combining motor planning with muscle memory to target the language processing system, which eliminates the need to locate the commonly used words.

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