Success with a Speech Generating Device

On April 1 and 2, 2016, LAMP Words for Life will be half off…that is, $150 instead of $300. What can a speech generating device mean to an individual with autism? I want to share a story of a student a friend of mine works with who used a speech generating device…until he didn’t need it anymore! He became so verbal that he passed it along.

This is not to say that verbal speech is always the result of using a speech generating device (SGD), but it can be a possibility! Research has not shown that kids who utilize speech generating devices are any less likely to become verbal than any other children. SGDs can only help speech development, not hinder it.

“Party” Says a Teenager using His Speech Generating Device

One of the most joyous moments recently was with a teenager I have been working with for 2 years. We have been using LAMP Words for Life for over a year now and he will request where he wants to go eat and tell me step by step what to draw, including what color to use, but no completely spontaneous language beyond that. He reads using WFL and loves to spell.

Recently, he was hanging out before our session started and I was getting another student to tell about his birthday party and how old he was, what he ate, etc. My teenager was standing still or pacing during this conversation.

When we started our session, he kept going to different things on Words for Life, but not settling on saying anything. I could tell there was something he wanted to say and continued to wait and encourage him. After a few minutes, he said “party.” He wanted to talk about the other little boy’s party or perhaps have one of his own. He didn’t give anymore details. This was so exciting for him to take what we talked about as a group, when he seemed to possibly not be paying attention and want to talk about it again with me. This was a huge moment for us!

LAMP Words for Life celebrates April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day and puts WFL, which is only available through Apple, half off for April 1 and 2, 2016 only. This makes such an impact for so many families who are waiting and watching for their child to ask for “popcorn” or “tickles”…or “party.” Party on, Wayne!

MS CEC February Conference to include Dr. Rebecca Mullican of Jackson Autism Center

The fast approaching MS CEC conference will be held at the Golden Moon Casino and Resort in Philadelphia, MS on February 6-8, 2013. Dr. Rebecca Mullican will have two presentations that you will not want to miss during this conference! One will discuss her dissertation topic of children with autism who use speech generating devices to communicate and the other focuses on the connection between behavior and communication. You can review the schedule here and the session topics here. If you would like general information about Mississippi’s Council for Exceptional Children, you can visit here.

Dr. Mullican’s first presentation, Linking Communication and Behavior, will focus on the need for all individuals to have a consistent way to communicate. Individuals are misunderstood because of challenging behavior and a lack of communication. Through a better understanding of the connection between behavior and communication, professionals and parents can assist individuals with special needs in creating a communication system that works.

Dr. Mullican’s second MS CEC presentation, “It Is His Voice” Daily Device Use with Children who Have Autism, will share information from Dr. Mullican’s dissertation which focused on families of children who have autism and use a Speech Generating Device (SGD) to communicate. Six families across the United States participated in two interviews to share their experiences with their child who has autism and communicates with a SGD. Dr. Rebecca Mullican will be presenting with Dr. John Bishop, a CISE professor at the University of Southern Mississippi.

These and many more presentations will make the MS CEC conference one you will not want to miss. A variety of information will be presented, from the DORE program to positive behavior support, Mississippi Alternate Assessment, Common Core for individuals with moderate and severe disabilities, and twice-exceptional children. Hope to see you there.

~I was unable to attend CEC as scheduled for personal reasons. However, I will be participating in other speaking events so stay tuned…

October is Rett Syndrome Awareness Month

October is a great time to learn more about Rett syndrome since it is Rett Syndrome awareness month. Rett syndrome is considered a part of the Autism Spectrum. It used to only be diagnosed in girls, but as researchers find out more, Rett syndrome is beginning to be diagnosed in a small number of boys.

There are lots of activities going on throughout the southeastern states this month. See if you can get in on the fun and learn a little about Rett syndrome in the process.

Blue Sky Girls of Alabama
October 13, 1012, 9:00 am Alabama State Capital Building, Montgomery, AL

Blue Sky Girls of Georgia
October 13, 2012, 11:00 am Georgia State Capital Building, Atlanta, GA

Black Out Rett Syndrome
October 27, 2012, 7:00 pm Celtic Media Center Baton Rouge, LA
A musical evening with Clint Black

One of the main areas affected by Rett syndrome is communication. Many girls (and boys) with Rett may not talk and will need a communication system developed to help them communicate and participate in school, at home, and in the community. Depending on whether the child has functional use of her hands will determine if the communication system should focus on a system that is activated to talk by touch or whether an eye gaze and/or use of head will work better. There are many amazing Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems and it is important to find the one that will work best for your child. Companies such as PRC and Dynavox make high technology devices for children that include eye gaze technology or head pointing systems that allow children to communicate by looking at a particular picture/word on a computer screen or slightly moving their head.

One of the most important things to get children with Rett syndrome communicating is “yes” and “no.” “Yes” is usually taught by getting the child to look straight at the person asking the questions, while “no” is usually taught by getting the child to look away. Once you have a firm “yes” and “no,” you are on your way to a communication system.

To find out more information about Rett syndrome or what you can do to help, visit the International Rett Syndrome Foundation website.

Certified to work with Children using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

I am very pleased to announce that I have completed the LAMP training through the Center for AAC & Autism and am the second certified LAMP professional in Mississippi. The Center for AAC and Autism is helping more and more children learn to communicate using speech generating devices AKA Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).

LAMP stands for Language Acquisition through Motor Planning and is a therapy tool to help children with autism and other related disabilities to learn and use language to communicate. I personally have been using LAMP in the classroom for over four years and have been excited to help children not only learn to communicate better, but also increase communications by using core vocabulary. Core vocabulary are the words that are most used in every day speech. It helps kids with disabilities get “more bang for their buck” when communicating by teaching fewer words with higher rates of generalization. LAMP has a large focus on core vocabulary such as every day verbs and pronouns with less of a focus on teaching nouns. By focusing on core vocabulary, kids are able to communicate in more settings and with more activities because they are not pigeonholed into words like “cookie, hat, or Elmo” that only have one meaning. A typical core word LAMP may teach instead is “that” which after taught, can translate into many different scenarios and items. What a better use of a word!

To learn more about LAMP, check out or join the Center for AAC & Autism on facebook!

What does this mean for the Jackson Autism Center? JAC will be able to help more children learn to communicate using AAC and LAMP! I am so excited about being able to help teach more children how to communicate. If you are interested in learning more, please fill out the information on my contact page: contact me.

Daddy Shares All About Raising a Daughter with a Disability

I recently read a book, “Schuyler’s Monster” about a father’s experiences with his daughter, Schuyler, and her disability. Robert Rummel-Hudson refers to his daughter’s disability as a “monster” throughout the book that left her unable to communicate verbally. His honesty regarding what he went through before, during, and after diagnosis offers real understanding for professionals and may allow parents to feel understood or not alone. Although some parents and professionals may not like his opinion about disabilities or religion, I found the book to be inspiring and full of hope. Schuyler’s parents never give up on helping her have her own voice through a speech generating device. “Schuyler’s Monster” is a book for all individuals who work with kids who have disabilities.

And if the book leaves you wondering what is going on now for Schuyler, you can read Robert’s blog to find out more!