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Encouraging independence when eating and drinking can be the first step. Children can be highly motivated by food and drink, so will see a reason to communicate their choices and may have strong views about their likes and dislikes. Respond positively when a child shows independence by making a decision, even if it is not what you want to hear.
An occupational therapist will give advice on different kinds of cups to enable a child to drink with minimal support. They will advise on cutlery with different handles, bowls and plates. Some children may need a picture schedule to help them understand what is happening and to make choices.
Other children may need support with sitting, standing and moving. A physiotherapist can give advice on what equipment is available.
The potential for new technologies to support everyday living is considerable. Increasingly, computer tablets and phones allow a young person to access information, communicate and even use public transport while being tracked from a distance.
An effective communication system gives a child a voice to make decisions, express their views and initiate an activity. This is illustrated in the film below, which looks at how Scope's Meldreth Manor School, the staff and pupils are pioneering a scheme to use Apple iPads as communication aids.
Video describing Apple iPads launched as communication aidsView a transcript of this film
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Video describing Apple iPads launched as communication aids
View a transcript of this film
A guide for teachers and special educational needs co-ordinators
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