Where do you begin to build a communication system for a child who has low cognitive abilities? Try this!

Where do you begin to build a communication system for a child who has low cognitive abilities? Try this!

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Do you have a child who has a cognitive level of 18 months or lower or do you have child who may be higher functioning but you just can’t quite identify what he/she likes?  

For students like this, you must be able to identify what is reinforcing to the child before you can begin to build a functional communication system.

What is the cornerstone here?

A multi-sensory approach!!!!  This approach enables you to watch every move they make to find out what has an affect on your child and what doesn’t.

I was introduced to the training called Every Move Counts, by Jane Korsten, Dixie K.  Dunn, Teresa Vernon Foss, and Mary Kay Francke several years ago.   They have a book by the same name.  I have used this technique multiple times to gather valuable information with huge successes.  This assessment is done by presenting various stimuli to a child in the following areas:







Take a look at the video!! 

As you have seen, we gathered lots of information about Ethan that will be quite valuable in shaping a functional communication system.   Now that we know what is reinforcing to him, we will be able to present a strong reinforcer and then remove it.  We will then expect him to indicate through either a vocalization or a reach to “request” what he wants.  The communication will just grow from there!!!

Try this with your child if you just can’t find much that is reinforcing.  You will find things that work that you would have never imagined.  Make sure you video tape the assessment and then go back and look.  Somehow the video reveals things no one actually saw in real time.  Go figure!!!

I’ve used this with children on the autism spectrum and have found new things to offer as reinforcers when we thought there were no more things in the world we could try!

If you’ve been searching for a solution, here’s your answer!  Try it and let me know in the comments how it goes!  Can’t wait to see what happens!!!!

See you next time!


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