Outcome of recommendations for augmentative communication in children

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SummarySome children with severe motor disorders have unintelligible speech, and may be recommended augmentative communication systems, such as a symbol chart or a voice output aid. The paper reports the outcome after 15-18 months for 35 children of recommendations for augmentative communication. Using structured questionnaires, parents were asked whether equipment was provided as recommended. Their perception of success in children's use of augmentative aids was recorded and related to potentially influential factors. Twenty-five symbol systems, 10 speech output devices and 11 switches were received; 18 symbol systems were used for communication and 10 were used frequently. Seven speech output devices were used for communication but only two were reported to be used frequently. Factors leading to more successful outcomes include early receipt of the aid, perceived adequate local training in the use of the aid, and children aged 6 years or more at initial assessment. The findings also suggest that referring professionals will need to be better informed about the nature and limitations of augmentative communication aids, and that improved local professional input and careful interagency planning and co-ordination are required to achieve optimal outcome.

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