Children with Angelman syndrome may have severe impairments in speech and communication. They usually use nonverbal methods of communication because conversational speech is either absent or limited to very few words. In order to improve speech, language, and communication skills, speech therapy needs to be initiated as soon as children are diagnosed with the disease.

How speech therapy for children with Angelman syndrome?

Children with Angelman syndrome need to undergo speech therapy under the guidance of a speech-language therapist who specializes in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) techniques. The speech therapist will come up with a strategy for improving speech, language, and communication skills with the help of the child’s parents, teachers, and medical professionals, including the child’s physiotherapist and physicians.

In general, the role of the speech therapist includes:

  • Training the family, caregivers, teachers, and other communication partners to recognize, identify, and interpret the patient’s communication actions;
  • Target and teach communicative functions, such as requesting, rejecting, and commenting;
  • Teach ways of communication in different settings;
  • Increase the number of communicative partners for the child;
  • Encourage the use of intentional communications using the patient’s preferred mode;
  • Increase the length and types of communicative exchanges between the patient and their communicative partners whenever possible.

AAC techniques for children with Angelman Syndrome

AAC techniques can include both unaided and aided forms of communication.

Unaided AAC does not require physical aids or tools and uses facial expressions, body language, gestures, and sign language to help children communicate with others. Children use gestures, including physical contact with objects or people, in order to communicate their thoughts.

The speech therapist can devise strategies to use the system of enhanced natural gestures (ENGs), through which the children can be taught to communicate effectively and meaningfully. Children also can be taught to communicate through sign language. Gestures and signs can be supplemented with one or more types of aided communication.

Aided AAC refers to the use of tools and materials to help children with communication. These may involve low-tech or high-tech aids.

Low-tech aids may include symbol boards, cards with choices that the child can point to or pick, or electronic communication display of pictures, line drawings, words, or other symbols that the child can use to learn and communicate.

High-tech aids include voice output communication aids (VOCAs) and AAC apps on mobile phones or other electronic devices. There are several communication devices available that can be matched to each individual’s skills, capabilities, and immediate as well as long-range needs. A wide range of VOCAs are available from simple single-message communicators to dynamic display communication aids, tablets with applications such as Proloquo2Go, TouchChat, or LAMP Words for Life.

Moreover, visual aids, sign language, and AAC devices can be incorporated into music therapy sessions to improve speech and language skills.

 

Last updated: Sept. 4, 2019

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Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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Özge has a MSc. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Leicester and a PhD in Developmental Biology from Queen Mary University of London. She worked as a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Leicester for six years in the field of Behavioural Neurology before moving into science communication. She worked as the Research Communication Officer at a London based charity for almost two years.