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Opening up communication possibilities for students with autism

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“Communication is a basic human right. Sometimes people think that just because a child with autism has trouble communicating or isn’t verbal, they can’t communicate at all. That is not the case.”

April is World Autism Acceptance Month, aimed to increase awareness about life for autistic adults and children and to tackle misinformation and myths about living with autism.

Specialist school St Paul’s College, run by not-for-profit organisation VMCH, supports 65 per cent of students who are on the autism spectrum.

St Paul’s speech pathologists Mia Chow and Lauren Bisignano use a range of tools to help students communicate, including Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). AAC uses Key Word Signs, communication boards and books, and a dedicated communication device to help increase students’ understanding of verbal language and give them a way to communicate, besides talking.

Lauren Bisignano and student

They say the results of the program have been are life-changing for students and their families.

“We’ve had students who are either minimally speaking or non-speaking make the realisation that their communication device is their voice. Once this connection is made their whole world opens and the possibilities are endless,” Chow and Bisignano say in a joint statement.

“Working with the student, together with their teachers and families, is fantastic, especially when we open the door to alternative communication and get that ball rolling. We love making a difference in the lives of those we work with.”

VMCH is a Catholic not for profit organisation that provides a place to call home and spaces to learn and grow which is inclusive, compassionate and respectful. VMCH’s team offers a range of support from early learning and therapy, specialist education, disability services, affordable homes, residential aged care, retirement living and at-home aged care.

Related article: Opinion: Aged care sector left out in the cold in Federal Budget

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