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World Autism Month

April is World Autism Month!

World Autism Month aims to promote Autism acceptance so that those with autism have adequate support to be themselves (Autism Society, n.d.).

  • It is a time to celebrate the unique abilities and contributions of people with autism, while also recognizing the challenges they face.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects how a person interacts, acts, communicates, and learns (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.-a).

Did you know?

  • Approximately 1 in 44 children have been identified as having Autism;

  • Autism has a four times higher incidence rate in males than females;

  • Autism impacts individuals regardless of ethnicity, race, and socioeconomic status;

  • The identified prevalence of autism in the United States has significantly increased since 2010 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, n.d.)

Those who have autism often experience various communication challenges. Although everyone with autism is unique and has unique characteristics, there are a few common language and communication patterns present in those with autism (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.-b). Such patterns include:

  • Uneven language development - While many individuals with autism have a degree of speech and language skills, such skills are frequently below “normal” levels and development occurs at a slower rate than “normal.”

  • Rigid/repetitive language - Individuals with autism often say things that seem irrelevant and meaningless to their immediate communication partner or repeat statics or words that they heard somewhere else, speak in a robot or sing-song voice, repeat a question that they were just asked, and use scripted phrases in interactions.

  • Specific interests and exceptional abilities - although they may not be able to hold a conversation with a communication partner about a topic that they are interested in, individuals with autism can often develop a detailed monologue about the topic. Others may have great musical, mathematical, or memorization abilities.

  • Underdeveloped nonverbal communication skills - individuals with autism may be unable to use body language to supplement their communication via words and expression frustration of miscommunication through outbursts. They often avoid eye contact with their communication partners. About 30% of individuals with autism do not have functional speech and some with autism exhibit self-injurious behaviors, such as arm biting, skin scratching, and head hitting (Vogindroukas et al., 2022; Iacono et al., 2016).

AAC has several benefits for people with autism. Such benefits include:

Benefit 1): Fosters language and literacy skill development

  • Several studies have found that AAC can not only reduce existing communication and language deficits, but it can also prevent such deficits from developing (Romski & Sevcik, 2005). The voice output paired with the symbolic representation of language fosters the development of expressive and receptive language skills in the communicator via speech and AAC.

  • It also provides support to develop the communicator’s reading and writing skills as they simultaneously hear the word pronunciation while seeing its written form (Mirenda, 2008).

Benefit 2): Facilitates neurological connections formation

  • AAC systems that have a consistent motor plan make language development accessible to those who cannot produce sounds to form words with their mouth (Mirenda, 2008).

  • Like what occurs when learning to use speech, learning to use AAC to communicate facilitates the formation of neurological connections in the communicator to promote communication via AAC with minimal additional cognitive load placed on the communicator.

Benefit 3): Decreases self-injurious behaviors

  • Self-injurious behaviors are often associated with frustration with not being able to communicate as they wish to do so. AAC is a reliable communication method that allows the communicator to communicate anything at any time anywhere and thus, decreasing self-injurious behaviors due to communication breakdown frustration (Ganz, 2015).

Benefit 4): Increases independence

  • AAC empowers individuals with autism to communicate independently, reducing their reliance on others to interpret their needs and desires. With AAC tools at their disposal, they can make choices, ask questions, and engage in social interactions more autonomously, fostering a sense of independence and self-determination.

Benefit 5): Improves Social Engagement

  • Communication is central to social interaction, and AAC plays a vital role in facilitating meaningful connections for individuals with autism. By giving them a means to initiate and participate in conversations, AAC opens doors to friendships, relationships, and social activities that might otherwise be inaccessible.

  • It helps bridge the communication gap between individuals with autism and their peers, fostering greater inclusion and acceptance.

Benefit 6): Enhances Access to Education and Learning

  • AAC supports the educational goals of individuals with autism by enabling them to participate fully in classroom activities and learning opportunities.

  • Whether it is following along with lessons, expressing ideas during group discussions, or engaging in collaborative projects, AAC ensures that every student has a voice in the educational process. By removing communication barriers, AAC promotes academic success and lifelong learning for individuals with autism.

World Autism Month serves as a reminder of the importance of supporting individuals on the autism spectrum and promoting their rights to communication and inclusion. AAC plays a crucial role in empowering individuals with autism to express themselves and engage meaningfully with the world around them. World Autism Month is a time to celebrate the strengths and abilities of individuals with autism and for society to reaffirm their commitment to supporting the communication needs of those with autism, not just in April but every day of the year.



Hannah Foley, B.A. serves as the Support and Implementation Specialist at Forbes AAC, leveraging more than five years of experience in AAC support and implementation. Committed to delivering quality implementation resources and support, Hannah focuses on empowering AAC teams who are implementing CoughDrop. She is dedicated to ensuring successful integration of AAC into various life activities, maximizing communicative skill development, and fostering meaningful engagement for individuals utilizing AAC.

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