Peggy HallidayPeggy Halliday is a board certified associate behavior analyst who has specialized in autism education for the past ten years. She is the Director of Outreach Services at the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) in Charlottesville, VA. VIA is a non-profit organization which provides a day school and other resources for families, educators, and other professionals seeking services, training or information about autism and evidence-based interventions. The Institute operates a year-round school for students ages 2-22, a 700-volume library, training workshops, internships for undergraduate and graduate students and teachers, and customized trainings for schools. Peggy supervises a wide range of outreach services, including development and supervision of comprehensive, home-based early intervention programs incorporating naturalistic, incidental, and structured teaching using the principles of applied behavior analysis; training for parents and home instructors; skills assessments, functional behavior assessments and intervention plans, and consultation on Individual Education Plan goals. She has presented trainings and workshops at state and national conferences.
Host: What strategies are recommended for children who are unable to talk? Peggy Halliday: Depending on their age, you would look at an appropriate communication system. Sign language works very well for young children, if they have the fine motor skills to actually form the sign.
Picture exchange communication systems can work very well for many students because most children with autism are visual learners so, they respond well to pictures and pictures can be exchanged for items that the child wants in a way that s very functional.
Sometimes we continue to push for language while we are working with sign language and with pictures and we find that by giving the child another functional communication system the language tends to come more easily instead of the opposite that some people might expect that if you are giving another system the language disappear, that doesn t turn out to be true.