Testimonial-Speech Language Professional

I had the great privilege to view Billy and his remarkable progress as it was delineated in the film at a conference on February 10th, 2007. I have worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist for the last 19 years. For the last 9 years, I have had the opportunity to specialize with children having Autism Spectrum Disorders. With regard to the film, simply, Billy demonstrated remarkable improvements with regard to his spontaneous and appropriate communication abilities through the use of his voice output communication device. More specifically, the fact that his communicative intent expanded concurrently with his receptive and expressive vocabulary was an extraordinary bonus. As Billy progressed, his understanding and use of picture vocabulary increased remarkably. Use of PECS at the beginning of his life was an important precursor to his communication achievements. Clearly the combination of approaches that has brought Billy to this place was the key to his success. There were aspects of ABA, contextual learning, incidental learning opportunities, and speech-language therapy approaches. In all honesty it was difficult to watch staff wait Billy out for an exact response (e.g., waiting for him to tap their shoulder before utilizing his device), but this approach was successful as Billy benefited from clear expectations. He also benefited from the fact that the rewards for his success were intrinsic in the task at hand. In other words, he earned exactly what he wanted by communicating his needs appropriately, thereby increasing his motivation to be accurate in his responses. I would recommend that this film be seen by any parent or professional who is hoping their child will be able to expand their communication skills beyond PECS and picture communication books. The fact that for many children use of pictures and voice output devices can augment verbal language abilities as well, is another reason to support this extraordinary approach to communication.

Jennifer A. Leighton, MA, CCC-SLP 0

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