Breaking down the communication barrier for children with autism July 1, 2013 Murdoch researchers are trialling a new technique to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) communicate. Researcher Cherie Chan is seeking participants for her study. Doctorate in Psychology candidate Cherie Chan is exploring the influence iconic gesture has on communication and speech. "Many pre-school children with ASD only have limited and sometimes inappropriate forms of communication such as crying and screaming," Ms Chan said. "Not only is this stressful for this child, but it’s stressful for the family too and can make everyday social situations very challenging." After an initial assessment, study participants attend teaching sessions twice a week for eight weeks at Murdoch University’s School of Psychology and Exercise Science at the South Street campus. Children are taught words using a gesture method (a video of an adult demonstrating gestures with words) and a picture method (using pictures to point to or give to others). "Sign languages, such as Auslan or Makaton, can be taught to children with autism, but these movements aren’t easily understood by the wider community who have not learnt those languages," Ms Chan said. "By teaching children simple gestures and hand movements which are universally understood, I hope to ease some of the frustration children with autism experience when trying to communicate." It's expected that these techniques will encourage children with autism to use their hands and arms to communicate with a wider audience, which in turn could pave the way for the development of speech. "Children with autism are often the hardest to teach functional communication skills, so if this technique works, it’s likely to work for any child with early communication problems," she said. Ms Chan is currently looking for more children, aged between 3 and 5 years, to take part in the study. The children must be experiencing a delay in verbal and non-verbal communication skills, have English as a first language, and have no intensive prior sign language or training using picture exchange methods. Parking and transport costs will be reimbursed. The research has been approved by the Human Ethics Committee at Murdoch University and is being supervised by Associate Professor David Leach and Dr Bethanie Gouldthorp. For more information, contact Cherie Chan on 0433 355 924 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Print This Post Media contact: Candice Barnes Tel: (08) 9360 2474 | Mobile: 0408 201 309 | Email: email@example.com Categories: General, Teaching and Learning, Future Students, Research, School of Psychology and Exercise Science, School of Psychology and Exercise Science Research Tags: auslan, autism, autism spectrum disorder, bethanie gouldthorp, cherie chan, david leach, language delay, makaton, murdoch university, school of psychology and exercise science Leave a comment Name (required) Mail (will not be published) (required) Website You can use these tags : <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> We read every comment and will make every effort to approve each new comment within one working day. To ensure speedy posting, please keep your comments relevant to the topic of discussion, free of inappropriate language and in-line with the editorial integrity of this newsroom. If not, your comments may not be published. Thanks for commenting!