Spelling to communicate

The goal of spelling to communicate is to find synchrony between the brain and the body.  This is a relative “new” approach of introducing an AAC to a child that is struggling to expressively state their needs and wants.

Here is a video that explains Spelling to Communicate and shows examples of individuals utilizing this method:

From this video and many testimonials we believe that Spelling to Communicate is definitely an avenue to explore if you have a non-speaking child or working with one.

Of course, there are always some critics to any new or novel approach.  Here is an article that explains studies that have been done to support or disprove this method of communication. Click here to read an article on studies on Spelling to Communicate

We can’t teach anyone to “correctly” spell to communicate as we weren’t formally trained in this method.  Just like any other method out there the creators will tell you that you have to be professionally trained.  Which means that a registered trainer would need to probably fly to your country of residency, stay in a hotel and do a week-long training.   We know people that have done this and they have been very happy with the training.  We also know some of those people that have not seen a lot of “progress” in terms of their children starting to communicate in full sentences by spelling out and this is 2 years later.  What we can tell you that we are certain of is that you know your child best.  You know what mode of communication (if it’s not verbal) will suit him or her.  You have to help your child find his or her “inner voice”, we know this, but there is NO one size fits all.

Some of our children do remarkably well with PECS, others with an iPad and an AAC program loaded on it and some do the Rapid Prompt Method (RPM) or now Spelling to Communicate.  We advocate for any of the above or another mode of communication if:

  1. Your child seems to understand why he or she is learning to communicate and
  2. The targets are functional and your child is receiving enough breaks throughout learning to communicate in this way.

This seems to be an obvious thing to ask from parents and more so from professionals, but you would be surprised to see how many therapists are forcing a child to spell or type out words that they have never heard of and will definitely not find interesting.  We believe all these methods can and should be tested, but the way in which it is introduced to your child is SUPER important.

Let me tell you a story that still saddens me to this day.  We had a beautiful boy that we worked with.  One of our therapists started with him and for the first time he seemed happy.  He was able to use his iPad to communicate and if he didn’t want to use this, he went back to his “backup” PECS file.  One day the therapist told us (her supervisors for this little boy) that the parents decided to bring in RPM in his sessions.  We were at first excited as we have had some good experiences with some of our other children.  When we watched a session of RPM though, we were horrified.  The therapist that was flown in from another country and cost the parents thousands, was sitting in front of this child, basically pushing him into a corner.  She was not friendly, actually come to think about it she really didn’t show any sincere emotions towards our boy.  She read out of a book that he has never seen and then asked him reading comprehension questions and fully hand-over-hand prompted him to spell out the answers.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Our beautiful boy was not happy – rightfully so, but there was nothing he could do, except become aggressive.  This was not a live observation – it was a recorded video.  We would have told the therapist to stop if it was live.  We then notified the parents that we are against this way of incorporating communication into his program as we believe that he will become more frustrated and quite possibly aggressive.  His parents didn’t want to change anything about the way RPM was done and decided that we can do our “holistic concepts” after his RPM sessions.  There is not much you can do if parents have made up their minds.  Unfortunately we couldn’t ask our boy what he wanted as that is not what he was taught through RPM.  He couldn’t say “no more RPM please” or “I don’t care what happens with the characters in this boring book”.  It would have been more functional to teach him how to say “stop” than to answer “Jim” or “throw ball”.

So, to summarize – whatever mode of communication you introduce make sure your child seems motivated to engage in it and teach functional targets.

If you want to speak to us, send us an email – we are more than happy to answer questions.


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