Visual support for language in ASD (summary)


What was the aim of the study? This paper described an approach to AAC called the Visual Immersion Program, which helps children with autism spectrum disorders learn language and communicate.

Why was the paper written? The use of AAC for people with ASD started to be investigated in the 1980s and 1990s. The first strategies were no-tech or low-tech, such as simple pointing techniques or exchange systems such as PECS. More recently, high-tech AAC with many different hardware and software options has become available. Now, the technology to create and use AAC resources is readily available so that users do not necessarily have to buy expensive, specialized equipment. For example, digital cameras and camcorders can be used to make resources for use on tablet computers, laptops or smartphones. However, instructional approaches to using such tools are very important if AAC is to be effective and successful.

What did the authors do? Children's Hospital Boston created an approach to AAC for children with ASD that can be used on the high-tech platforms that are readily available today. It helps its users learn language and communicate and is called the Visual Immersion Programme (VIP).

The VIP uses visual scenes to portray information that is usually explained with complex language that can be difficult for children with ASD to process. When first introduced, these scenes are dynamic moving pictures to aid children's comprehension. The dynamic scenes can later be replaced by static, or still, images. Graphic representations are then used as elements of language, and the VIP includes instructions on combining these elements to form messages. The VIP includes a programme that allows users to experience word forms in many different environments and contexts, so learners can build up their knowledge of the meaning of word forms and how they can be used in language. The VIP also includes video modelling that aids in developing pragmatic skills, behaviour and daily living skills.

Conclusions: The Visual Immersion Programme is a new way of teaching children with ASD about language. It capitalizes on the technology readily available today and does not require expensive, specialist AAC devices or software.

Things you may want to look into:

webcast of Visual Immersion Program


Added to site August 2013