Students who are non-verbal range greatly in ability level. Many students who are non-verbal have multiple issues, which also affect their learning. In the case of a student who is strictly non-verbal, but is able to do most of the work expected of them in school there are several options available to them. This article will look at a few different types of communication including no technology, and high technology options.
I have always been taught to have a non-tech back up plan for when technology fails. A very effective way to do this is simply through pictures. I have created communication boards for people using pictures taken off of computer programs such as BoardMaker, or cut out of magazines, or just taken from random websites. The pictures can be categorized in groups such as: food, drinks, television, personal, family, etc. based on the needs of the individual. The pictures can be printed from a computer by category and put into a binder where the user is able to find it easily. Depending on how high functioning the individual is, you can have a few or many pictures to choose from.
A high tech solution is often times costly. Depending on the situation, insurance companies may be willing to help with the cost. There are several types of augmentative devices, which can help. Most of the devices on the market today can be rather complex. If you know somebody who is technologically inclined, they may be able to help you. Some brands of augmentative communication devices include: DynaVox, Vantage Plus, Vanguard Plus, or a Tuff Talker.
There are several different types of ways you can accommodate those who need modifications due to language deficits. Most teachers feel that there is no time for them to be able to make accomodations for their students. In a regular education classroom, there are options teachers can use with students who do not have these types of communication devices.
There are many low tech and high tech methods a teacher can use on the fly in a classroom. One way a teacher could deal with a non-verbal student is to let them write their answers down, and have them read to the class. The student could write the answers on a small white board or chalk board, and hold it up for the class to read. A high tech way would be to have the student type the answer on a computer, and have it either read by someone, or if the text to speech option is enabled, the computer can speak the text to everyone.
An inability to speak should not mean that a student shouldn’t be heard. There are many ways that these problems can be solved in a regular classroom. Accommodations can be made for almost anyone so that they can participate in a regular classroom despite any scholastic deficit they may have.