Profound communication disorder is one of the four defining features of Angelman Syndrome with up to 85% of people not using natural speech. Those that can speak are unlikely to be able to meet all their communication needs through speech.

As little as 10 years ago there was seemingly little that could be done to help people with AS communicate as few are able to progress through the stages required by traditional Speech and Language Therapy. However, things have changed for and by people with AS. We have a communication revolution going on!

Communication is at is most simple an interaction between two people. People with AS are notoriously social beings and crave social interaction, that infamous smile is genetically programmed to gain attention. People with AS prefer to communicate using facial expression, gesture, pointing, physical manipulation and signing. These are all types of unaided Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC); AAC is any form of communication that isn’t spoken and it is a natural part of our communication. There are also aided forms of AAC and these include any tools that we use to help aid our communication. These range from pictures right through to sophisticated electronic speech generating devices (e.g. PODD or Proloquo2Go).

Studies into individuals with AS have suggested that individuals who do not have deletion form of AS use more gestures and signs. This means that it can be easier to recognise these people as communicators. However, early studies into AS and speech generating devices show NO DIFFERENCE in the ability to use these AAC systems and genetic subtype.

Everyone should, therefore, be given the opportunity to learn a full language system.  It can be very daunting to begin a communication journey.