Here's a teaser:
The importance of using a minimal speech approach
Many children with autism, like those in this study, experience extreme difficulties in understanding speech and use little or no speech themselves. Several teachers commented on the ways that some children "just tune out from speech and voices" or "definitely cut out any language input". When adults used everyday speech with these children, they often withdrew from the social interaction by turning away, protesting or simply by "switching off".
The essence of a minimal speech approach is straightforward. It means that adults should consistently use only one or two relevant concrete words when interacting with children who understand little speech. Figure 1 highlights the difference between minimal speech and everyday speech in a snack session.
A minimal speech approach can be highly effective. When professionals used little or even no speech with children in this study, using non-verbal means of interaction instead, then children became more socially engaged and communicated more often. Maintaining a consistent minimal speech approach is often easier said than done: even when professionals recognise the need to limit their speech output to key words alone, it is often hard to keep this up in practice. Appropriate training and supportive monitoring will be necessary to ensure the consistent implementation of this approach.
In addition to the consistent use of a minimal speech approach, there are several other specific strategies and approaches that can be used to promote spontaneous communication.
Below are more "pearls of wisdom" from the site. I found this so very exciting that I had to share. I know next to nothing about this site, but I found it intriguing:
Case study 1: Jo
We observed Jo, a five-year-old child with severe autism and no speech, for a full school day. During that time, he communicated only 39 times - an average of seven communications per hour. Nine of Jo’s communications were to request food or objects, whilst the other 30 were to protest or reject actions of adults. These interactions lasted no more than a few seconds with any attempt to prolong them leading to him becoming distressed. By contrast, during a continuous 40 minute videotaped interaction session with an adult, who was using proximal communication strategies, Jo communicated 164 times - all of these communications were requests for social interaction, and were accompanied by laughter and appropriate eye-contact.
Case study 2: Tony
Tony is also five years old and has severe autism and minimal speech. He communicated spontaneously an average of 9 times per hour across the school day. Only three communications during the day were requests for social interaction. Again, during a videotaped interaction, using proximal communication techniques, he communicated 71 times in a four-minute period. All of these communications were requests for social interaction.
These case studies are not isolated examples. All the children who were observed in proximal communication settings showed significantly more intentional communication than in other situations.