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Managing sensation for intelligible, autonomous/functional communication

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All communication requires motor control. For individuals with physical disabilities the ability to plan, organise and carry out movements for communication is often impaired, and will require them to access appropriate AAC systems for communication. As the motor and sensory systems are closely interrelated a child’s ability to manage their sensations will further impact on their communication competence. For children who have difficulties organising, modulating and integrating information from their body and outside world, their movements for communication can appear inconsistent and unintelligible. This often leads to a range of assumptions about the child’s behavior and cognitive ability, and can affect the amount and type of learning opportunities we provide to an individual.

A transdisciplinary, holistic team approach which presumes competence has proved beneficial for supporting the learning and sensory needs of children aged 2-4 years in an Early Intervention Program in Melbourne. By identifying the motor disorder, along with the sensory, visual, auditory, cognitive and communication learning requirements for each individual child, targeted and structured interventions have been able to be implemented across all settings. Over time this has led to the development of functional, purposeful movements for effective autonomous communication.

This presentation will describe the impact of sensation on communication and outline the strategies utilised to manage sensory input and work towards developing intelligible access to AAC systems for communication.


Haylee Parfett    
Cerebral Palsy Education Centre

Fiona Beauchamp    
Cerebral Palsy Education Centre


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