Comparing sign language and pictures for autism kids communicationA new research suggested that kids with autism and can’t speak stand to benefit a lot by communicating using pictures and even rewarding their small speaking attempts. The research also found that pictures were more effective in encouraging communication among autism kids compared to sign language that has for long been used when teaching kids with autism. It is estimated that about 25 percent of young kids with autism can minimally speak or not speak at all.  The researchers said that this problem is bound to continue into adulthood. The research shows that majority of such children also experience motor skills difficulties.

Supporting language learning in kids with autism

Over time, experts have been trying many different methods that could support language learning among these children. However, the methods have depicted varying levels of effectiveness. Now, the study has found that certain early interventions which aim at mirroring motor skills and natural language of people might be more effective.

The team of researchers was from University of Birmingham in England, who studied over 200 research papers that have already been published and over 60 intervention researches that evaluate strategies that encouraged non-verbal children with autistic to speak.

The effectiveness of picture based communication

The researchers concluded that the most effective method that could enhance interaction in non verbal kids and make them ultimately speak in the long run picture based communication. Through this kind of intervention, autistic kids can easily exchange pictures when making comments or requesting things from others. This method of communicating using pictures was seen as the best for encouraging children to speak especially those with minimal communication skills. Additionally, Joe McCleery also told LiveScience that the system could also be used for communicating even for nonverbal kids.

Effectiveness of pivotal response treatment

The researchers also found that pivotal response treatment was also a very effective intervention as well. This kind of intervention involved providing kids with opportunities to reinforce their attempts and requesting items. For instance, if the child said ‘Ba’ to request for a ball, that child needs to be rewarded and just like the above explained picture based communication system, McCleery said that this method is equally effective in encouraging children who can only speak a little to speak more. Contrary to this, the researchers noted very little evidence when it came to improving communication by use of sign language that is extensively used for kids with autism who can’t speak. This was explained to result from great difficulties that autistic kids experience when trying to copy motor behaviors.

For a long time, scientists have supported the idea of motor coordination playing a major role in language and speech learning. In their first months after birth, babies interact greatly with their parents after which they enter to the hand- banging stage. By the 11th month, they are able to babble and the repetitive babbling and hand motion appears well coordinated.