Selecting an Alternative Method of Speaking

Many children and adults with moderate-to-severe disabilities
are not able to communicate effectively with ‘spoken words’
and require an alternative method of speaking (AMS).

Chapter 6 of Essential for Living [EFL] describes and demonstrates a systematic set of procedures for selecting an alternative, primary method of speaking [AMS] for a non-verbal child or adult.  These procedures begin by designating the learner’s sensory, skill, and behavioral repertoires and displaying these repertoires on the Selection Diagram, a sheet of clear mylar included with the EFL handbook. This diagram is then used to compare these repertoires with those that tend to occur when each of 46 alternative methods of speaking is effective. In other words, a learner is ‘matched’ with methods of speaking that are often effective with learners with similar repertoires. Approximately 10-12 methods of speaking will have more repertoire matches and will emerge as candidates for an alternative method of speaking. Of these methods, some will retain more of the advantages of ‘spoken words’ for speakers than others, and some will result in a larger audience than others.  Then, the relative importance of each of these three factors for a specific child or adult can be considered by instructional or treatment teams and used to select an alternative primary method of speaking for that learner that is more likely to be effective. Four sample cases are provided in chapter 6.

We have very recently become aware that with some copies of the mylar, the Selection Diagram has been ‘stretched horizontally’ so that it is no longer the same size as the diagrams in chapter 6 of EFL for each of the 46 alternative methods of speaking. As a result, these copies can no longer be used as part of of the selection process. However, the New AMS Selection Tool to the rescue!! This tool, which updates and replaces the AMS Comparison Tool permits users to bypass the Selection Diagram and, using the same procedures, quickly determine candidates for an alternative method of speaking for a non-verbal child or adult. This tool was developed by Hunter Williams and Eb Blakely. [ IF YOU WOULD LIKE A NEW COPY OF THE MYLAR, send a note requesting one, along with your mailing address, to ].

The following is a link to the AMS Selection Tool



Download the AMS Selection Tool and open the file. As you can see, this tool was developed using EXCEL and the product is an EXCEL file. This file, however, is not supported on an iPad or an iPhone.

If you see a box that asks about macros, you will need to select ‘enable macros’ to use this tool. If you see a box that is entitled Visual Basic for Applications, select END (if the same box appears a second time, select END again). Then, select  the HELP boxes for instructions on using the AMS Selection Tool. You can highlight any of the methods that were selected with a color of your choice. You can also print the page when you are finished or save it with a learner’s initials for future reference.