In working with our students, we want to ensure that they have an effective way to communicate. This could be using vocal words… sign language… PECS pictures….. AAC device…. etc. Many times the effective commuication starts with pointing, tantrums and grunting, while possibly also pulling you across the room.
Think about the skill set of your learner.
Are they able to scan a large array?
Do they have an echoic repertoire?
Do you understand that a spoken word, picture or icon is the same as the actual item?
There are many different questions that you must ask before beginning instruction in any of these modes of communication.
In my practice, our young non-verbal learners typically start with echoics and sign language, as there is a breadth of research stating that if the child is going to speak, the combination of gross motor movement and the echoics will prompt the brain connection to promote speech. However, after several months, if echoics are not coming along, then we transition to either PECS or an AAC device.