Developing Communication Systems for People with Complex Physical, Learning and Visual Difficulties



Practice Report

    • Judy King


Three case studies will demonstrate the challenges to developing the communication skills of people with profound, complex physical, learning and visual difficulties; and how – with persistent, intensive, repetitive input – communication can be developed beyond cause and effect and the BigMack.


The single and sequenced message devices are invaluable for teaching communication cause and effect, but opportunities need to be given to develop beyond this. Simple choice making via real objects, photos or symbols need to be offered and the ‘like/dislike’ reaction noted. Appropriate language prompts need to be given, and the motivating item presented immediately the choice is made.


With much repetition, a yes/no response can be established and a simple communication choice book can be created. Simple categorisation skills need to be introduced, modelled and practised using both low-tech and simple high-tech. The structure of a navigation system can then be introduced, with a ‘go back’ in the same position on each page. Access to low- and high-tech is being taught simultaneously with navigating between choices and more exciting instantaneous choices occuring (music/dvd).


Gradually, with much repetition and modelling, further categories can be added and a simple, functional communication system achieved.

Level of Session


Age Group

All Ages


Special school