|The communication assessment record
The CAR was developed in a school for pupils with autism.
We were keen to carry out assessment of communication and related skills
and to record progress, but we found it difficult to find an assessment procedure
that looked at the areas that we considered most important when working with
pupils with autism.
It is well recognised that people with autism may have some difficulty in
acquiring verbal language skills, but, most importantly, that people with autism
frequently have difficulty using their language skills to communicate effectively,
regardless of the level of their language skills.
Difficulties in understanding spoken language are common. These may
often relate to people’s weaknesses in using other cues to support their comprehension
of language and in considering more than one interpretation of
something that they may have seen or heard. For example, when language is interpreted
literally, it is because only a single meaning has been considered. In
order to reach the relevant interpretation, it is necessary to consider the context
and other interpretations of the words. So, in learners with autism, it seems that
development of thinking skills is inextricably linked to development of comprehension
of spoken language. Itwas therefore considered necessary to include assessment
of thinking skills alongside assessment of communication.
First, we wanted to look at the communication skills that an individual has
available to him andwewanted to look at how he uses those skills in everyday situations.
We know that a feeling of success is important to all learners’ skills development,
so we were particularly interested in the recognition of situations
where a learner communicates most successfully and the factors necessary to
help him to communicate successfully.
Obviously assessment of comprehension of language is of paramount importance,
but, rather than looking at comprehension of spoken language in
isolation, we wanted to consider the visual cues that an individual may use to
support his understanding. It is important for most people with autism to learn
strategies early in life which they may use to support their long-term difficulties
in understanding spoken language.
In order to grasp a full picture of how an individual is communicating, it is
necessary also to consider attention focus and social interaction. Effective communication
cannot take place in isolation from social interaction. Some ability to
ASSESSING AND DEVELOPING COMMUNICATION AND THINKING SKILLS