“My child’s speech therapist wants to introduce PECS (picture exchange systems) while my ABA lead therapist wants to stick to modified sign language. My child already knows very limited sign language that is unique to my child’s needs. The therapists are arguing that ‘their’ method will lead to faster vocalization. PECS is universal. Where my child’s sign language is modified specific to her communication needs. When she needs a new word, we make up a sign. I’ve mentioned mixing the two, but the ABA therapist really did not like the idea. I thought it might bring the best of both worlds. When I mentioned to the ABA therapist about using PECS for things like the TV, the ABA therapist wanted to come up with a sign for TV. My child is clearly ready to learn to communicate and often shows frustrations when she can’t get across what she wants. I think that if we mix the two approaches with emphasis on the signing, we would achieve communication more quickly, even if it is not verbal.”
Insights From Sign Language Expert, Louise Sattler
I can understand how this mom is feeling. She is stuck between the proverbial professional tug of war. It is not fair, nor constructive. So here are my thoughts to ameliorate the situation.