In service of trying to get her to use SOME sort of signifier to communicate -- rather than just going to or grabbing whatever she wants -- we're making a new attempt to use photos for communication, eventually for use in making choices.
Back a couple of years ago, we did some preliminary work with PECS, which stands for Picture Exchange Communication System. It's a structured alternative to sign language in which a person communicates by selecting and handing over laminated pictures, often little line drawings like these:
Joy made some progress with initially learning just the act of handing over the pictures, but she seemed to be attaching words to objects almost as fast as we were providing the pictures, so we let it fall by the wayside.
Between then & now, alas, we've had these regressions.
After the first regression, the language did come back. This time it's not really happening the same way. It does seem to be time to give pictures another try, though this time we decided to use real photos instead of making Joy interpret the meanings of line drawings. So I went and took a bunch of shots of common items in Joy's world, and her senior therapist for the intensive autism therapy got them laminated for us.
Our first step will be using the photos in conjunction with the item or activity, eventually hoping to move to making choices. It's not a strict PECS protocol, more like just making available another avenue for communication.
Here are some of the photos. Do you suppose she'll want to play with the slide...
Even without hearing much about these plans, Joy's older sister Rose has picked up on the idea. She's been very excited about decorating for Halloween, and is already making plans for how we'll carve the pumpkins (though we've yet to get to the pumpkin patch). At first she wanted to carve hers with the words "Happy Halloween!" but I do believe I've convinced her to go with "Boo!" instead.
Then she wondered what Joy would want on her pumpkin. And then she came up with a sisterly idea: she would draw a couple of options, and Joy could choose among the drawings! I did not prompt this in the slightest. Here is what Rose drew:
It's such a thoughtful big-sisterly thing. I hope that Joy will cooperate at least a little.
Meanwhile, I've already got the stencil picked out for my jack-o-lantern. Fair warning: it does relate to presidential politics, so don't click if you don't really wanna know... (At least I'm not planning on wearing a politically-themed costume, as I've done a time or two in the past!)
How I'm carving my pumpkin
Make your choice -- and do be sure to vote November 4, or earlier if your state allows!