Children on the autism spectrum can have a range of sensory processing and motor skill capabilities. This variance indicates the level of difficulty the child faces in learning their primary language. Activities such as handwriting, tying shoes and other memorized actions formed through habits are near impossible to change once they’ve been learned.
The premise for LAMP (Language Acquisition through Motor Planning) is that a child cannot “unlearn” a motor pattern to utter a word. In teaching vocabulary, LAMP uses technology that gives the learner autonomy in learning specified vocabulary through reinforced motor planning.
Researchers John Halloran, Cindy Halloran and Mia Emerson from The Center for AAC and Autism conducted clinical studies with autistic non-verbal individuals and determined the students were able to learn vocabulary when given motor skill instruction through a “speech-generating” device. The words were then reinforced by a digital device that stimulates multiple senses and provides auditory feedback to cultivate autonomous communication within the student.
The team at the Center for AAC and Autism realized it wasn’t enough to simply provide structure and visual stimulation for the students. Language acquisition needed consistent feedback coupled with motor movement practices while using technology to stimulate a natural, spontaneous response from the individuals. LAMP as a pedagogical approach pairs instruction with technology in a way that minimizes the learning barriers and creates a learning environment that teaches students essential vocabulary and language structure.
LAMP in the Classroom
Specially designed apps, laptops and other technology help facilitate language learning so students can develop the required skills, not just to communicate, but to pass academic standards and participate in the classroom. These tools are creating a pivotal change in the way teachers help children with autism master communicative abilities — arguably the most important social skills they need to possess.
Special needs students usually spend some part of their school day sitting in a traditional classroom with general education learners. Current Trends in utilizing LAMP technology in the classroom include augmenting students’ communicative motor skills and subsequently creating a means of connecting to other students, the teacher and the content while participating in class. But their use isn’t limited to the classroom; parents, therapists and caretakers can use these technologies from anywhere laptops or mobile devices are available.
LAMP in the Home
Apps such as “LAMP Words For Life” pair text with symbols while providing consistent motor patterns for augmentative and alternative learning exercises that are modeled after LAMP strategies.
The Center for AAC & Autism suggests that the best approach to educating a student with autism is through early intervention. If a child is diagnosed early, there are more opportunities for parents and educators to develop an appropriate learning plan that will have the biggest impact, and LAMP provides a way to begin teaching communication.
The University of Louisiana Monroe offers a fully online Master of Education, Curriculum & Instruction with a concentration in Special Education which prepares current and prospective educators to work with children with special learning needs. The degree covers unique subjects such as early intervention and educational diagnostics where students can learn the theories and practice of LAMP as well as other instructional models to assist students with complex learning issues.