Direct Access Options
Communication systems can be adapted to be
accessed by children with physical impairments associated with complex physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. But is not just physical difficulties, changes can also be made for children with dyspraxia, which is
common amongst autistic children.
There are a range of access methods that can be applied to low-tech paper-based communication solutions such as activity boards and communication books. Remember throughout the course you may see the word board and chart being used interchangeably.
Most children will prefer to use a single finger to point to symbols on their communication aid But many children with complex communication needs will find this difficult due to the level of control required. Here are some of the solutions:
For accuracy you could try make the symbols larger. But be warned that bigger targets are not always easier for people who use large and uncoordinated movements. Larger symbols in a given area results in less symbols per page, which increases the navigation
between pages which can be inefficient and tiring for the child.
Some children who find finger pointing difficult
will use fist-pointing, where an entire closed hand indicates the symbol required. In practice often the child will rotate their wrist and use different parts of their hand depending on the location of the symbol on the board.
It is also possible to use feet to select symbols, and some people even use their nose, although this can have postural implications.
Some children can grip a stylus which allows large movements with fine precision as does not require rotation of the wrist or extension of the finger. There are lots of different shapes and sizes of stylus available and they can also be custom made or
3D printed. The selection of stylus depends on the grip and orientation of the child’s arm and hand.