Communication and ASD

Communication is an essential part of everyday life and is considered to be a profound and indisputable individual right. Impairment in communication is one of the diagnostic characteristics of ASD. This means that every student identified with an ASD will experience communication difficulties. It is now widely regarded that communication is an essential life skill and should be a primary goal for students with ASD.

Communication Guidelines and Resources

All students with ASD need to be able to communicate effectively across environments and for a variety of purposes. Because of this, we have developed Communication Guidelines and Resources to support educational team members in enhancing the communication abilities of students with ASD and to create lifelong learners. The Communication Guidelines and Resources are designed to:

  • Enhance understanding of what communication is,
  • Enhance understanding of why communication is important, and
  • Advance expectations, knowledge, and skills related to communication based assessments, strategies, and supports.

Please go to the Communication Guidelines and Resources page for more information and to access a wide array of resources that can be used to assist in building critical communication skills with your students.

Guides and Fact Sheets

VCU-ACE has developed two fact sheets related to communication: Autism Q & A: Introduction to Alternative and Augmentative Communication and Autism Q & A: Introduction to Teaching Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to Verbally Communicate. The Alternative and Augmentative Communication Fact Sheet is also available in Spanish: Introduccion a la Comunicacion Aumentativa y Alternativa.

Videos and Training

VCU has developed training and seminars on communication that provide information and resources to support individuals with ASD so that they can communicate both effectively and efficiently. Because communication is so important, individuals with ASD must be provided with a way to communicate and must be taught how to build communication skills as they grow and develop.

Communication Tools

The Expressive and Receptive Communication Inventory for Emerging Language Learners will assist educators in determining needs related to expanding the communication abilities of a student with ASD. It is designed to identify potential goals and determine priority areas for expansion of expressive and receptive communication skills in an effective and efficient manner so instruction may begin immediately.

Selecting an appropriate Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) system or systems is never an easy task. There are many systems that provide an array of features. When selecting a system(s) it is important to make the best decision possible that will allow the individual to actively communicate across environments in a meaningful way. However, it is equally as important to ensure a decision is made expeditiously so the individual has an effective way to communicate as quickly as possible. The Augmentative and Alternative Communication Inventory can help with this process.

Research and Articles

Ganz, J., et al. (2011). "A Meta-Analysis of Single Case Research Studies on Aided Augmentative and Alternative Communication Systems with Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder." Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities. 42, 60-74.

Mirenda, P. (2008). "A Back Door Approach to Autism and AAC." Augmentative and Alternative Communication. 24, 219-233.

Mirenda, P. (2001). "Autism, Augmentative Communication, and Assistive Technology: What Do We Really Know?" Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. 16, 141-151.