Autism is a disability that affects the way in which the child expresses himself or herself. Children who have this disease find it difficult to express themselves orally. They have a heavy tongue and they are unable to pronounce some words clearly. It also slows their speech pattern such that they talk slowly and repetitively and it requires patience to hear what they are saying. To assist the children there have been devices used to make it easier for them to communicate and express themselves more clearly. However, there have been challenges that have made it difficult for the children to use the devices. This essay shall delve into the challenges experienced using augmentative and alternative communication especially in an educational setting (Koegel 2000).
One of the challenges is the cost of training on some of the Augmentative and alternative devices such as Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAS). Training parents as well as the child on how to use these devices for communication is also costly. Not only is it costly in terms of money but it is also time consuming. On average, the time taken to learn how to use these devices is estimated to be forty hours for the child and fifteen hours for the parent (Crandell 1999). This means that learning on how to use this machine can go on for a week or even more. Most of the parents find it time consuming and they simply do not have time to learn how to use this device. This adds an additional cost of hiring a trainer who knows how to use the devices. However, the devices especially the voice output device will not be an effective tool of communication if the parent cannot communicate with it.
To solve this problem it is critical for the manufacturers of the devices to ensure that as a part of the after sale service they train the child and the parent on how to use the device. Alternatively, manufacturing Augmentative and alternative communication devices, which are simple to use is the best option (Hubble 1998).
The other challenge experienced in the use of Augmentative and Alternative devices for children is that the Voice Output Communication device is quite cumbersome to carry. In other words, they are not portable, thereby limiting the movement of the children who use them. They are heavy and the young children cannot toss around them (Crandell 1995). To make them more effective, the manufacturers of these devices have to look forward towards having devices, which are portable.
The other challenge associated with these devices is that they require charging every now and then to function. This means that they will malfunction immediately there is no power connection. Therefore, when there is no electrical power the devices cannot function. To avoid this problem the manufacturers have to look for ways in which the devices can have long lasting batteries such that they do not need connection to power throughout which makes them expensive to maintain (Cafiero 2005).
The other challenge experienced in the use of VOCAS is that of repair. When these devices break down, they need to be returned to the manufacturer because the warranty stipulates so. When taken back to the manufacturer, the process of repairing takes two to three weeks, which leaves the child without the device for some time. This makes it hard for the child to learn making the child to lag behind academically. The manufacturer has to find ways of shortening the time of repair to make the use of these devices more effective (Angelo 2000).
Though these devices have their limitations they have also gone a long way in assisting the children who are suffering from autism to function wholly like other children in the society courtesy to these Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices.
Angelo, D 2000, Impact of augmentative and alternative communication devices on families: augmentative and alternative communication, 16(1), 37-47, Harvard University Press, Massachusetts.
Cafiero, J 2005,Topics in autism: meaningful exchanges for people with autism: an introduction to augmentative and alternative communication, Woodbine House, In, Bethesda.
Crandell, C 1995, Acoustical modifications within schools, Oxford, London.
Crandell, C 1999, Sound-field fm amplification, theory and practical applications (pp. 83–92), Singular Publishing, San Diego.
Hubble, D 1998, Classroom amplification, not just for the hearing impaired
anymore, CSUN ’98 Papers, New York.
Koegel, L 2000, Interventions to facilitate communication in autism, journal of autism and developmental disorders 30(5), 383-391, Oxford University Press, London.