Communication Partners — How to be a Good One

A Supportive Communication Partner by Paula Kluth. Strategies that may "help any teacher, family member, or support as they work to understand, listen to, and communicate with students with autism." (This article is no longer available on Paula's Kluth's site, so we have linked to a copy at

A Way of Life: Interacting with Non-Traditional Communicators by Joel Smith. "... it can be a sign of tremendous respect to modify your own communication style to help both you and the non-traditional communicator better express your thoughts." Tips for Communicating.

Aiding Comprehension of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders During One-on-One Interactions, article contributed by Beverly Vicker, Speech Language Clinician, Indiana Resource Center on Autism website. General guidelines for communication partners.

Communication Assistants Training Project. Augmentative Communication Community Partnerships, Toronto, Canada. "Always assume competency when interacting with a client who uses AAC." On-line slide presentation and downloadable training information files. Communication Assistants: A Model for Communication Access, An ACCPC Pilot Project, March 2008, slide show includes several people who use AAC describing the support they need from communication assistants. Files: Barriers to Community Services; Accessing Information; Communicating with a Person who uses AAC; Working with a Person who uses AAC; Telephone Contact with a Client who uses AAC.

Communication Partners: A User's Perspective by David Chapple. "Let me start with one of the biggest problems I encounter - people not having the patience or giving me the time to talk!" (The original website is no longer active, so we have linked to a copy at

Communication Partners. Augmentative Communication News, January - February 1999 March - April 1999 Volume 12 Numbers 1 and 2. “It takes two to tango. The same is true of conversation. Communication is a dynamic process between at least two people… This issue focuses on the communication partners of individuals who use AAC and considers how to approach their needs for training and support.

Communication Tips for Businesses and Services. Communicating with a person who has a communication disability, from Communication Disabilities Access Canada. General tips on making services accessible to people with speech and language disabilities.

Communication starts with "Hello". What organizations can do to support communication access. Info and links to Communication tips for businesses and services (pdf), What to expect from a business or service that is communication accessible (pdf), and Make services accessible (e-learning modules). From Communication Disabilities Access Canada.

Education of Service Providers who Deal with Persons who Communicate Using AAC, A Speaking Differently Position Paper. "... [of] greatest concern is the tendency for persons such as doctors or government employees to ignore persons with little or no speech in favour of their attendants or facilitators during examinations, treatment, meetings and other interactions." Includes recommendations for training of professionals.

Eldercare at Home — Communication Problems. General guides to improve communication; using writing, pictures, and gestures to supplement spoken language; getting and keeping attention; adjusting your communication style to fit the person's needs; understanding the problem and when to get professional help. (Use links to more information at bottom of the webpage.)

Ethical Guidelines for Communication Partners, Assistants, and Facilitators Communication Aid User Society (CAUS) of Australia, Ethical Guidelines for Communication Partners, Ethical Guidelines for Communication Assistants, Ethical Guidelines for Communication Facilitators.
[Editor's note:  As defined in this document, a communication partner supports those with severe communication impairments (SCI) whose current communication strategies do not allow the expression of everything they need to say; the role involves interpretation of the individuals' communication.  A communication assistant works with those who have an SCI, but who are able to express their intentions through impaired speech, augmentative strategies such as manual sign, or communication boards; the communication assistant serves as a 'conduit.'  A communication facilitator supports the communication by an individual whose response is expressed through the use of equipment, and who is dependent on the assistance of another person.]

Having a Conversation with Someone Who Uses AAC. Communication Matters UK website. “The suggestions below have been written by people who use AAC, to help you relax and enjoy a conversation with them.”

Learning From Helen Keller, Mayer Shevin, Facilitated Communication Institute. "Those of us who are supporters and allies of facilitated communication users can play an important role in helping our friends come into possession of their power and full citizenship in our community. The most powerful acts — and often the most complicated and painful ones — by which we can support movement in this direction, are those acts by which, a piece at a time, we become less and less indispensable.", Page 150.

Let's Communicate. Blog by Darlene Hanson, SLP, with WAPADH in Santa Fe Springs, CA. "Our goal is to enhance communication and communicative opportunities by training individuals to be better communication partners."

Living with Autism by Joel Smith (Understanding Autism in Adults). Solitude: "Sometimes autistics need to be left alone, so that we can calm our minds and bodies. We'll often retreat when we're experiencing sensory overload or when we are under a lot of stress. This behavior sometimes seems strange to a NT, as it seems that we are running away from the people who are willing to love and support us. As an autistic, I recognize my need for friends to support me. However, because I am autistic, interaction with even my closest friends and family can tax my reserves – especially when I'm under a lot of stress. If you see me push you away in a stressful time, please realize that I'm not doing it because you did something wrong. I sometimes push my friends away when I need that quiet solitude to regain my senses. Let me know you are available, and that you care, but please don't push the issue if I am unable to interact at that moment. Don't worry, I'll come to you when I'm recharged - I still need your support, for I get lonely and need wise advice just like you do."

Making Communication Happen — Tools to Help Teams Plan and Provide Communication Supports Version 2, Spring 2003. Communication Plan (Form and Sample), Communication Checklist (Form and Sample), Communication Outcome and Support Plan (Form and Sample),

Making Meetings Accessible to people who communicate differently: tips on making board and committee meetings accessible.

On Being a Communication Ally, Mayer Shevin, Facilitated Communication Institute. Confronting Fluency Privilege, The Social Uses of Communication, What is a Communication Ally? The Art of Being a Communication Ally: General Principles, Translating General Principles into Specific Actions: The Communication Ally at the Team Meeting

ON BEING AN AUTISTIC By Joel Smith. “Autistics want the same things that others want in their friendships. We want to have friends who are loving, honest, and kind. I'm writing this with the assumption that the reader is a non-autistic who wants to be a friend to an autistic person. Note that while many autistics may agree with the thoughts expressed below, not everything expressed here will apply to every autistic. It is best to talk with your friend about these things and find out what each of you could do to become closer friends.”

Strategies for Supporting Friendship for All Students by Carol Tashie and Zach Rossetti. "Some strategies that students, teachers, and families in New Hampshire have found useful to value and support all students to have the rich and enviable social lives they deserve ... As you think about strategies, it is crucial to keep in mind that unless a student is truly valued, fully included, and consistently treated with the highest of expectations, well-meaning strategies can easily result in relationships based on benevolence and pity, not mutual respect and appreciation."

Vermont Communication Resource Guide — Version 4, 2003 (Updated October 2006). Presumption of Competence, Communication Bill of Rights, What is AAC, Basic Principles of AAC, Who Needs AAC, Why Is AAC Important, Resources.