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Frequently Asked Questions

LAMP™ is not a cure. LAMP is a method for providing an individual with a language system that can progress from first words to fluent communication.

Many individuals using the LAMP approach have demonstrated success with some becoming very communicative and some increasing the amount of their verbal speech.

If you still have questions after reading the following, contact us and we'll do our best to answer.

This is a common concern of parents with non-verbal children. However, research shows that use of augmentative communication typically leads to increased verbalizations. There is no evidence that use of AAC impedes a child's development of speech.

Romski, M., Sevcik, R. A., Barton-Hulsey, A., & Whitmore, A. S. (2015) state, “First, and most importantly, the data strongly suggests that families and practitioners should be very confident in using AAC interventions with very young children early in their development. AAC interventions do not inhibit the development of speech; rather, they support the development of language and communication skills” (p.196).

Other research supporting gains in speech development in addition to use of AAC include Leech & Cress, 2011; Romski et al., 2010; Stahmer & Ingersoll, 2004; Blischak, Lombardino, and Dyson, 2003; Miler, Light, & Schlosser, 2006; Charlop-Christy et al., 2002; Goossens, 1989;; Scheipis, Reid, Behrmann, & Sutton, 1998.

There are no prerequisites for learning to use an AAC device, other than the ability to produce a purposeful movement. The myth that a child needs to have cognitive prerequisites or move through a hierarchy of steps prior to using high-tech systems has been discredited repeatedly. (Adamson, L.B., Romski, M.A., Deffebach, K., Sevcik, R.A.,1992), (Stuart, Sheela and Ritthaler, Christopher, 2008), (Beukelman, David R. and Mirenda, Pat, 2005), Romski, M., & Sevcik, R. A. (2005).

According to the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA): “When considering AAC, parents and professionals must remember that there are no prerequisites to AAC use. That is, all individuals should have access to AAC systems or devices that promote effective communication.”

Some will say that first a child needs:

  1. To understand the use of symbols by using real objects; then
  2. Pictures of real objects; then
  3. Abstract representations of those objects to communicate.

This would mean changing a person's communication system over and over, in effect making language learning unnecessarily challenging for the child with learning differences.

Others would say that a child needs to demonstrate the cognitive ability to use low-tech devices first. However, when low-tech devices do not incorporate consistent motor patterns to access words, the child has to learn the meanings of lots of different symbols, and sometimes those symbols are difficult to discriminate from one another.

Also, low-tech does not have the added sensory benefit of hearing the word. So, in effect, low-tech could be harder to learn than high-tech that provides consistent auditory output.

In normal development, a baby learns the meanings of his first words by playing with the sounds he can make with his mouth and seeing the reaction others give him. That's the easiest way to learn to communicate. A consistent motor movement results in consistent auditory output that when integrated with the social response provides meaning to the word.

A high-tech device with consistent motor patterns and voice output allows the non-verbal child to learn language in this same manner. A high-tech device that allows for transition from learning first words to complex communication without changing communication systems, symbols, and access methods over the course of language development would be the easiest way for a non-verbal child to learn language and be able to communicate.

Not being able to communicate one's wants and needs is often the cause of behavioral issues. Children can become agitated and frustrated when not understood, or they could be using disruptive behavior as a communication strategy. Giving the child a way to communicate should coincide with addressing challenging behaviors – it shouldn't be dependent on getting behaviors under control first.

Perhaps the reason others want to wait to get the behavior under control first is that they’re concerned that the money spent on a device will be wasted when it gets thrown to the floor during a tantrum. The key here is to make communicating with the device rewarding, something that makes life easier for the non-verbal child. Don't make the device a negative in the child's life by using it for drill or compliance based activities. Don't sabotage enjoyable activities just to get more communication attempts on the device. Also, get a durable device!

No. Forty-one percent of children aged two to six with autism may have some motor planning issues (Ming, Brimacombe, and Wagner, 2007). This probably plays some role in their inability to communicate verbally.

Read this sentence out loud and think about how specifically you have to move your lips, tongue, and jaw while controlling your breath support to enunciate correctly. Sign language, while an excellent form of augmentative communication, also requires detailed fine motor movements of the hands.

To make tasks easier for those with motor planning issues, you would give them a simple motor task with little sequencing. Pressing a button to say a word is a simple motor task with no sequencing. As a child's language skill progressed, device access could progress to sequencing several icons to say words and thoughts, but the motor task remains simple.

While LAMP is an acronym for Language Acquisition through Motor Planning, it does not require intact motor planning skills. The title refers to accessing vocabulary through consistent motor patterns so that automaticity can develop.

There is always some motor planning involved in learning a new skill; the more difficult the skill, the more difficult the motor planning. Once the brain has developed a motor plan for a movement through repetition, the skill can be executed without having to consciously think about it.

AAC systems that do not maintain consistent motor patterns to access vocabulary require more attention and motor planning to navigate the system.

Being able to request wanted items is an important function of communication, but it is not the only function. We communicate for a lot of other reasons, such as expressing thoughts, feelings, humor and love. We communicate to:

  • Gain information
  • Comment
  • Greet and direct others

Learning to communicate fully using AAC depends on access to a large enough vocabulary to express anything the individual would want to say – and the ability to access it quickly, to join in the conversation. The vocabulary would have to include more than just nouns because to fully communicate, we need all the parts of speech. Then through activities in natural settings we need to teach the child to communicate for various reasons, not to just request items.

PECS has made a difference in the lives of a lot of non-verbal children and is a good communication strategy. However, if PECS has not worked for your child, or you want to add another strategy, an AAC device with voice output utilizing LAMP strategies offers several additional benefits.

Obviously, it offers voice output, and this additional sensory feedback can enhance the child's ability to learn language. In fact, a lot of autistic children develop their verbal skills by repeating what is said on their AAC device. Synthetic speech may help the child with auditory processing issues with auditory recognition and segmenting of words (Romski, M.A., and Sevcik, R. A., 1996),(Parsons, C. L. and La Sorte, 1993). In addition, voice output allows the child with better receptive language skills the opportunity to do some independent learning of the locations of words on their device.

Second, an AAC device with consistent motor patterns allows for the development of automaticity in communication. Consistently searching for the location of desired symbols and the placement of those individual symbols on a strip requires more motor planning and cognitive attention to the communication process.

Another difference is in the vocabulary presented and the manner in which it is taught. When using PECS, initially the child is taught to request items using pictures.

As the focus is on giving the child the opportunity to request things he wants, it tends to be heavy on nouns. When a child is taught to use a voice output device using the LAMP method, the focus is on teaching the location and meaning of words which is reinforced by the response the child receives from the communication partner. This includes, but is not limited to, requesting.

The child is also taught to use words to direct the action of others, initiating activities, requesting help, etc. The words taught are a mixture of verbs, nouns, pronouns, and adjectives.

It is amazing how fast technology is developing. The amount of processing power in a Furby is more than in the first lunar module to land on the moon.

When the first AAC devices were developed, they utilized basic switches and light bulbs. Now they can:

  • Play MP3s
  • Import pictures
  • Connect to the Internet
  • Play games
  • Are DVD players
  • Operate environmental controls
  • Double as your cell phone

Even though all these features are impressive and flashy, sometimes we get caught up in the new technology and forget the device's intended purpose: communication!

While most companies have products containing these features, when it comes to individuals with autism these features can be a distraction. Often, the child would rather play the computer game or scroll through song options, making it difficult to focus on the communication aspects of the device.

So when deciding on what device is right for your child, don't let all the technology dazzle you. Focus on the language system and how your child will communicate on it. If you decide that the added technology is important for your child, make sure he still has the language available to talk about it while he is playing.

The first step is to talk to your child's speech language pathologist. Private insurance and Medicaid will typically cover the cost of a device if one has been recommended, but these regulations can vary from state to state. PRC has a network of regional consultants who can help you through this process.

  • Be an informed consumer; learn about your options.
  • Some companies will allow you to try a device for a short period.
  • Look for other device users who use the system that you're thinking about using.
    • How well do they communicate?
    • Can they say whatever they want to say in any environment?
  • Does the device incorporate strategies for language learning from simple to complex?

Read more about important device features for individuals with autism and language development.

We have a database of LAMP certified professionals. To become certified, a professional must have attended a LAMP workshop and participated in at least three months of mentoring by a LAMP trainer.

If you are interested in becoming a LAMP-trained therapist, you can register for training on our website.