Training a blind autistic child to communicate through signs

  • M. Mary Konstantareas
  • Don Hunter
  • Leon Sloman


Nonverbal autistic children have been successfully trained to communicate by the simultaneous use of speech and sign language. The advantage of this approach versus speech-only techniques may lie in these children's relative preference for visual input such as manual signs. Although apparently inapplicable due to its reliance on visual cues, sign language, accompanied by speech, has been used to train deaf-blind children. In the present case signs were used successfully with a blind 10- year- old autistic girl. After 8 months of training she was able to acquire a functional sign vocabulary, relying primarily on the tactile-kinesthetic and the auditory modalities. This newly acquired skill had a beneficial impact on the child's general functioning. The relevance of simultaneous communication or signed English for the blind autistic child is discussed.


Relative Preference Functional Sign General Functioning Sign Language Autistic Child 
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Reference notes

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Mary Konstantareas
    • 1
  • Don Hunter
    • 1
  • Leon Sloman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TorontoCanada

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