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Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP) is a therapeutic approach using motor learning principles and a voice output communication aid to give non-verbal individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities a method to develop independent and spontaneous communication. Individuals using the LAMP approach learn to use words and build sentences to communicate their wants, needs and ideas by pressing buttons on a speech generating device.
Interventions currently in use with individuals with autism tend to focus on the perceived strengths associated with autism such as visual learning and the desire for structure. While LAMP utilizes these strengths, it also addresses core deficits affecting language delay such as impaired motor skills, engagement, and auditory and sensory processing to improve spontaneous, generative communication.
The LAMP method is a combination of principles related to teaching language and the programming of the device: Readiness to Learn, Joint Engagement, Consistent and Unique Motor Patterns, Single Words, Auditory Signals and Natural Consequences.
- Readiness to Learn
Readiness to Learn refers to an individual’s level of alertness and ability to focus on a learning experience. It is difficult to learn and communicate when over- or under-stimulated. Some learners may appear to be passive or uninterested and need to be alerted, while others are distracted or have sensory-seeking behaviors and need to be calmed. The difficulty of the activity needs to be matched with the skill level of the learner, and components of the task or environment modified so that the individual can attend and achieve success.
- Joint Engagement
Joint Engagement occurs when two individuals are participating in the same activity or with the same object. It is important to learn to communicate while interacting with other people and not just by requesting favorite foods or toys. Adults should follow the learner’s lead, build on their interests and share in surprising, fun activities.
- Consistent and Unique Motor Patterns
Consistent and Unique Motor Patterns refer to how vocabulary words are programmed on the device allowing for fast, natural and fluent communication. Words on the speech generating device are learned by repeating the consistent motor movement rather than reading a word or interpreting a picture. This allows the individual using AAC to find words on his/her device as quickly and efficiently as a touch typist using a computer.
- Single Words
Single Words are taught so that individuals can build their own sentences word for word, rather than pushing one button with a whole phrase. This allows those who use AAC to express their individuality and their intellect rather than relying on stock phrases that might not be exactly what they wanted to say. There is a focus on teaching words that occur most commonly in speech (e.g., like “on,” “get,” “turn,” “that” instead of less frequently used words like “cotton,” “brontosaurus,” or “helium”).
- Auditory Signals
Auditory Signals on a device occur when a button is pressed and the device speaks the word using a computerized voice. This feedback helps the learner understand how sounds and words are connected to motor movements, a critical component in natural language development.
- Natural Consequences
Natural Consequences occur when an individual presses a button on their device and a communication partner reacts accordingly. For example, if a child says “eat,” he/she may be given something to “eat,” a peer could “eat” or a puppet could pretend to “eat.” Responding to communication attempts on the device helps the device user learn that their words have meaning.
Read how the LAMP method has changed lives by creating independent and spontaneous communication: www.aacandautism.com/real-communication-stories