I have decided to post this information on Speech-generating devices because there is a company in Cape Town that sells these devices:
Speech-generating devices (SGDs) (communication) for people with ASD are hand-held electronic devices that play prerecorded words or phrases when the user flips a switch or presses buttons or keys.
Who is it for?
SGDs can be used by people who have difficulty communicating in speech, including some people with ASD. SGDs can help these people give or express information. SGDs can also be used to help people with ASD understand information. Researchers are also looking into using SGDs to help children develop speech and tune into the sound patterns in language.
What is it used for?
SGDs let people ‘speak’ words and sentences electronically. This technology is most often used by people who have difficulty pronouncing words because of a physical disability such as cerebral palsy or acquired brain injury. SGDs are also sometimes used by people with ASD.
Where does it come from?
SGDs have been used to help children with ASD communicate since the 1990s.
What is the idea behind it?
SGDs allow people who can’t use spoken language to ‘speak’ electronically. Children with ASD are often good at visual processing, and the idea is that this ability can be effectively combined with the use of an SGD to improve communication.
What does it involve?
The child chooses the icon on the SGD that corresponds to what he wants to ‘say’. So if he wants something to eat – for example, an apple – he can push the button with a picture of the food he wants. The device plays a recorded human voice or computer-generated voice that says, ‘I want an apple’.
Does it work?
This therapy has not yet been rated. A recent study found it was ‘potentially effective’.
Who practises this method?
Many speech pathologists have experience in training people to use communication aids, including SGDs. Occupational therapists sometimes also have training in this area.
Parent education, training, support and involvement
Parents will need to select and purchase an appropriate SGD. They might need training by a speech pathologist or occupational therapist in the use of the device with their child. Parents will also need to encourage their child’s attempts to communicate using the devices.