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Monday, April 1, 2013

Giving a Voice to those with Non-Verbal Autism

This is the first in a series of posts about non-verbal autism, in honor of Autism Awareness Month.

"It is estimated that as many as 25 percent of individuals living with autism spectrum disorders are non-verbal. That is, they cannot functionally communicate with others using their voice." So begins a 2009 article on the Autism Speaks website that reports on a series of meetings they hosted to focus on this issue.

The article is well worth reading. We were particularly interested in one of the studies presented that showed that non-verbal children who learned to communicate with AAC devices "showed significant improvements in their abilities to communicate in the six week intervention." 2009 was also the year we released TapToTalk, and since then, there has been an explosion of the use of AAC apps that help non-verbal children communicate. AAC devices no longer cost thousands of dollars. They are no longer big, clunky and stigmatizing. Instead, AAC is economically available on common, socially desirable handheld devices: phones, tablets, e-readers, and so forth.

Just a few years later, we know that AAC apps on handheld devices can help many non-verbal autistic children communicate. Our customers tell us that every day. Here are a few of their reports:
I recommended TapToTalk for two of the children I (work with). They were diagnosed with autism and they have speech difficulties. The results are great. Thank you for a great app! -- Amira Ohana, Behavioral Analyst

Your program is great and really helps my son who is nonverbal and autistic. -- Shawn Holderby, Parent

I recently visited my godson in Texas. He has autism...I had heard about TapToTalk, but nothing had prepared me for his unprompted communication efforts! While his mom was out doing chores, he came to me and asked for specific food choices. I never thought I'd get to experience that with him. I was so excited I wanted to take him out to a restaurant right away to buy him what he asked for...wanted to say thanks from a grateful godmom. -- Lyn Johnson, Godmother

We just recently started using TapToTalk with our 4-year-old on his iPad. It's absolutely amazing. He is autistic so it now travels back and forth with him from school. His teacher and paras have been very excited about the possibilities it holds! -- Sarah Williams Maize, Parent

I took my son to school this morning. He does not want to be there. He opens up his DS with his TapToTalk and says "I'm sad" and I said "Why?" and he touched "My mom went away." I wanted to cry, this was a first for me and him telling me his emotions. I said "I am staying for a while" and then he pushed "I'm happy." I held back my tears of joy for this is huge for my son who is completely nonverbal and autistic. -- Naomi Smith-Long, Parent
We've come such a long way since 2009 in providing a voice for non-verbal autistic children. As TapToTalk Mom Jane Sundmacher said, "If my son has to have autism, I am glad it's in this age of technology when there's TapToTalk to help him."
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