Mendive. Revista de Educación, oct.-december 2019; 17(4): 481-496

Translated from the original in Spanish

Living experiences on stimulating communication in the autism spectrum disorders


La exploración vivencial en la estimulación de la comunicación en trastornos del espectro de autism


Yenira Hernández Fonticiella1, Giselvis Aguiar Aguiar1, Anaisis Valdés Valdés1

1Universidad de Pinar del Río "Hermanos Saíz Montes de Oca". Pinar del Río. Cuba. ORCID: E-mail:,,


Received: April 22nd, 2019.
Accepted: September 3rd, 2019.



Living exploration in communication stimuli involved a necessity to answer the evaluation and intervention processes in children with autism spectrum disorders. T he present work proposes a methodology for the stimulation of the communication from the living exploration and that takes into account the role of the social mediators in the attention to the students with autism spectrum disorders. Methods of the theoretical level such as analytical-synthetic, inductive-deductive, hypothetical-deductive were used, from the empirical level documentary analysis, observation and interview were used, descriptive and inferential statistics were used, which facilitated the collection, interpretation and processing of related information with the subject addressed. The proposed methodology also allows for the evaluation of socializing contexts of vital importance in the process of stimulating communication. This proposal takes into account the variability of the disorder, the preferences, potentials and needs of students with a psycho pedagogical approach.

Key words: communication; social inclusion; intervention; social mediators; methodology.


La exploración vivencial en la estimulación de la comunicación constituye una necesidad para dar respuesta a los procesos de evaluación e intervención en los educandos con trastornos del espectro de autismo del municipio de Pinar de Río. El presente artículo propone una metodología para la estimulación de la comunicación desde la exploración vivencial y que tiene en cuenta el papel de los mediadores sociales en la atención a los educandos con trastornos del espectro de autismo. Se emplearon métodos del nivel teórico tales como analítico-sintético, inductivo-deductivo, hipotético-deductivo; del nivel empírico se empleó el análisis documental, observación y entrevista y se utilizó la estadística descriptiva e inferencial que, facilitó recopilar, interpretar y procesar la información relacionada con el tema abordado. La metodología que se propone permite además, la evaluación de los contextos socializadores, de vital importancia en el proceso de estimulación de la comunicación. En esta propuesta se tiene en cuenta la variabilidad del trastorno, las preferencias, potencialidades y necesidades de los educandos con un enfoque psicopedagógico.

Palabras clave: comunicación; inclusión socioeducativa; intervención; mediadores sociales; metodología.



One of the great challenges that scientific society assumes for the present century is to change the circumstances that involve the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) , whose cause is still unknown. The Cuban educational system performs multiple efforts to ensure an inclusive and quality education, from the design of actions to stimulate the overall development of these students, from an early age.

In Cuba, during the last years, numerous investigations that have approached autism ,from different points of view ,have been carried out, among them stand out (Campos, 2010; Demósthene, 2010; Escalona, 201 0; Orosco, 2012, Aguiar, 2017) ALL  agree that autism is a profound developmental disorder, which is an expression of dysfunctionality of s ystem n ervioso c entral to process information affecting areas of reciprocal social interaction, language(verbal and nonverbal) and markedly restricted repertoire of activities and interests

From what was proposed by Borges, ( 2016 ) regarding the variability in the development of people with special educational needs , it is significant to highlight the complexity in the treatment of autism given its variability and heterogeneity.The spectrum disorder Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in early childhood , which complejiza first by the variability of the same, expressed in the levels of development of social communication and behavior, and secondly by the heterogeneity of the disorder that is evidenced by the potential and needs of each individual , which can be compensated by appropriate educational actions in different contexts, and that favor the preparation for social life. Aguiar, (2017)

The educability of these students continues to be a topic of great debate in the scientific community, taking into account the variability in their development and the possibilities of socio-educational inclusion. In this sense, the family constitutes a valuable educational resource, which leads to strong socializing implications among its members. In raising this, the author does not refer to the family as an institution, but as people with a culture, interests, emotions, who can share and transmit information, action models, experiences, lifestyles, based on their experiences.

The education of students with autism spectrum disorder should be based on what is known as the principle of normalization. This postulate advocates the need for the student to be educated in the most normal conditions, in the least restrictive, most socializing and possible development environment.

That is why it is considered as the main objective of this paper propose a methodology for stimulating communication from the experiential exploration, which will guide specialist physicians, educators and family in the process of stimulation of the affected areas in educating s with ASD  



For carrying out the diagnostic study during the school year 201 7 -201 8 were selected intentionally 8 students with ASD of m unicipio Pinar del Río.

In carrying out this study, the dialectical-materialist method was assumed as a general method, to analyze the phenomenon under study, and supported by theoretical methods such as the historical-logical one, which allowed analyzing, valuing and taking positions in relation to the historical evolution of Stimulation of communication in schoolchildren with ASD , the analytical-synthetic and the inductive-deductive were used throughout the research process.

They used empirical methods that allowed characterizing the state of communication stimulation in schoolchildren with ASD at an early age.

The documentary analysis allowed to sign data about the work that is carried out for the development of communication stimulation , based on experiential exploration , by reviewing documents; in this case the analysis of the development gains by age and the program Educa your hijo (PETH) , sources work educators, promoters of PETH and school within which psicopedagógicos files were and product analysis activity.

The observation to joint activities, and activities in everyday situations, allowed to carry out the experiential exploration, as well as to evaluate the stimulation of communication in the educational contexts in which students with ASD develop.

The interview teachers and administrators allowed information about the stimulation of communication in educational contexts where learners with T develop EA, from early stimulation l or S development achievements that are taken into account to check the performance they had.

In general, indicators were established that allowed the experiential exploration to be carried out:

In addition, the methods corresponding to the descriptive and inferential statistics that enabled the primary collection of the data were used.

The use of these methods allowed to determine the indicators related to communication stimulation:



In the early stimulation of the student with ASD important achievements have been obtained; nevertheless, there are revealed shortcomings in the process for the development of communication, which limit the scope of development achievements by age and their socio-educational insertion in inclusive centers.

Consequently, it was necessary to carry out a diagnostic study of communication stimulation in students with ASD, based on experiential exploration, which allowed us to offer a comprehensive view of their status.

The analysis carried out revealed the need to improve the stimulation of communication, from the modification of the contexts in which they develop, to achieve the socio-educational insertion of these students , based on the potentialities and needs , as well as the modification of the educational contexts, to offer better possibilities of access to general education of students with ASD.

In the observation of programmed activities, there are deficiencies in the mastery and use of visual keys that organize, structure and allow the transit from one activity to another, step by step : 87.5 % of teachers fail to adapt the tasks to develop communication based on the use of alternative and augmentative communication systems (SAAC), taking into account the variability of the disorder and psycho-pedagogical diagnosis.

The 100 % of teachers has difficulties in preparation of learners with TEA for socio inclusion in different centers (nursery, kindergarten age), power n little stimulation of communication so that the pupil has a leading role, in the contexts where it interacts. It is further noted insufficient use of the SAAC, to ensure communication in educ verbal and nonverbal Andos (100%).

The 100 % of teachers interviewed to analyze the process of com munication, referred insufficiencies in the domain of l to methodology for the application of the SAAC from early stimulation.

The 100 % considered the potential they have school for the development of communication to the extent that educational environments are changed.

The study allowed relating the main regularities from the experiential exploration:

Family area:

School area:

Personal area:

Based on these results, it was necessary to create a methodology for communication stimulation, based on experiential exploration. It tries to offer to the social mediators a way to encourage communication in students with ASD in early childhood, from diagnosis, characterization, evaluation and modification of educational contexts, so that you can devise a system of flexible programmed activities , adjusted to the level of student development with ASD. Its structure includes the overall objective, four stages with its target, the methods, the actions and the methodological guidelines for implementation.

Methodology for stimulating communication based on experiential exploration

First stage: Diagnosis of strengths and needs in the communication of the student s with ASD in socializing contexts, from the experiential exploration.

This stage includes the evaluation of the potential and needs of the student with ASD and the preparation of social mediators, to stimulate communication based on the reality experienced.

Objective: to diagnose the potential and needs of communication and the preparation of social mediators to stimulate this area of development in students with ASD.

Stage actions:

Methodological guidelines for its implementation:

The process of psychopedagogical evaluation that is carried out around the month of September, is fundamental to determine the characteristics and the level of development reached by the student, at this stage. T lso speech therapy evaluation and diagnosis is made, however, proposed the application of the methodology, since the learner is diagnosed by medical specialists, in the first month following. This analysis must be carried out by the speech therapist and then collect the actions with the members of the Diagnostic Support Commission, where each one can execute actions of the communication strategy developed because of the application of the experiential exploration protocol.

Second stage: planification of the communicative strategy.

This step is part of planning the communication strategy for the development of communication in students with TEA.

Objective: To develop one communication strategy, from the design of specific actions the development of l to communication in students with ASD, from the results of experiential exploration.

Stage actions:

Methodological guidelines:

Third stage. Stimulation of communication in students with ASD of 3-6 years.

At this stage the educator, the speech therapist or promoter of the "Educa a tu hijo program", as the main social mediator, plans and directs the proposed activity. To do this it must rely on the use of various categories didactic (specifically the methods, the means of education and the forms of organization), the use of teaching resources (the marked speech, visual agendas and the pictograms) taking into account the characteristics of communication and the variability in the development of schoolchildren with ASD of 3-6 years.

Objective: to direct the process of stimulating the communication of students with ASD, from early stimulation.

General Actions:

Methodological guidelines:

The guidelines presented below conceive a system of joint activities that the teacher must take into account for the planning, execution and control of the communication stimulation process. They rely on the use of teaching resources such as facilitated language, cooperative learning and dramatization, as well as the presentation of a booklet of differentiated learning tasks that takes into account the variability in the development of the school with ASD of 3-6 years.

Fourth stage. Control and evaluation

This step is carried out during the process of communication stimulation e ducandos with TEA of 3-6 years from the experiential exploration and involvement of social mediators. This stage will allow to verify the effectiveness of the designed strategy, assess the progress, stagnations, setbacks for its redesign according to the results obtained and make the relevant changes at the end of each work stage.

Objective: To evaluate the development of l to communication in the learners with ASD, from 3 -6 years.

General Actions:

Methodological guidelines for its implementation:

The preparation to facilitate the application of the experiential exploration protocol is materialized in six methodological workshops

Workshops conducted with social mediators: (educator, speech therapist, promoter and family)

1rs Workshop. The role of experiences in the development of l to communication in students with ASD.

2nd Workshop. The development achievements of 3-6 years.

3rd Workshop. The importance of the game in the development of student communication with ASD.

4th Workshop. The importance of visual cues to structure student environments with ASD.

5th Workshop. The role of the family as a social mediator in the development of communication in the school, family and community context.

6th Workshop. Potential of the community to develop l to communication of school with ASD.



The experiential exploration of the student with ASD in the different contexts in which it operates: family, school and omunitary, takes into account the clinical criteria addressed in the DSM-V , however , assumes the psychopedagogical intervention for the stimulation of the affected areas, as the main route for early and timely attention to these disorders .

As stated, Aguiar, Mainegra, Reyes and Hernández, (2016) the level of adaptation of the student in these contexts will be essential information not only to establish the diagnosis of ASD, but to draw up a strategy of comprehensive educational care that involves families, specialists and teachers who participate in the process of stimulation of the development of the affected areas.

In May 2013, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) was published, where it is established that autism disorder becomes the only possible diagnosis of Generalized Developmental Disorder (TGD) and It is now called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), with the exception of Rett Disorder, which is understood as a reality different from the autism universe and in which, in addition, comprehensive evaluation of the school from different contexts is of great relevance where it develops: school, family and communitarian. (Aguiar, 2018)

Among the deficits posed by the DSM-V present in ASDs, those that persist in communication and social interaction in various contexts, not attributable to a general developmental delay, simultaneously manifesting the following three deficits , stand out:

1. Deficit in social and emotional reciprocity; which can range from an abnormal social approach and an inability to maintain alternation in a conversation, through the reduction of shared interests, emotions and affections, to the total absence of initiative in social interaction.

2. Deficit in nonverbal communication behaviors used in social communication; which can range from poorly integrated communication, both verbal and nonverbal, through abnormalities in eye contact and body language, or deficits in the understanding and use of nonverbal communication, to the total lack of facial expressions or gestures .

3. Deficit in the development and maintenance of relationships appropriate to the level of development (beyond those established with caregivers); which can range from difficulties in maintaining appropriate behavior to different social contexts, through difficulties in sharing imaginative games, to the apparent lack of interest in other people.

In Cuba, the research of Demósthene (2010) and Campos (2010) recognize the potential of these e- grants for learning, among them, visual perception and associative mechanical memory. In addition, they note the importance of the continuous educational actions during their all lives.

In the current educational practice, the ignorance that exists in this relationship and how to stimulate the affected areas has had a negative influence on early and timely intervention in students with ASD, from the early ages.

Of vital importance is that the learner learns to organize in his thinking the information he receives by visual means, that is, he internalizes it, establishes internally links between what he knows (experiences) and the new to know, thus he begins to understand and to build their own meanings, they must also access the learning of strategies to learn to understand, which allows them to acquire greater autonomy so that the student transits from one level of development to another.

Students with ASD have difficulty realizing what another person thinks or believes. When you do not have the ability to put yourself in the place of another, the behavior of others is unpredictable, meaningless and difficult to understand Arango (2014). Therefore, the stimulation of the theory of the Mind in these students is of vital importance for the stimulation of development. Escolá, (2018)

That is why this work reveals the importance of emotional experiences and their interaction with cognitive processes, which allows any individual to know the surrounding environment and form an image of the world, which is composed of ideas, opinions, criteria, beliefs, ideology, about the meaning of the environment, which in turn is updated with the influences and changes of the subject, the family, the school and the community. 

One of the fundamental laws for human development, the social determinism of psychic development, states that " (…) all higher functions are not formed in biology, in the history of pure phylogenesis, but in the mechanism itself found at the base of the higher psychic functions, in the framework of the social ". Vigotski , ( 1978 )  

This law reveals the importance of the social environment in which the student develops with disorders of the autism spectrum, in the need for predictable and well-structured environments, where the actions to be performed are anticipated, which enable their performance, with greater level of independence, despite the needs it presents in the affected development areas. The role of the family and the educational institution in the stimulation of development in the first years of life stands out in this regard.

In order to achieve this active participation of the family, it is necessary for the teacher to look for the appropriate ways to promote, systematically, the use of all the educational potential of both the school, the family , and the community, based on knowledge of the emotional experiences that predominate in each one of the contexts; hence the importance of experiential exploration, in terms of stimulating early childhood development.

That is why should take into account the educational needs that the student s disorder autism spectrum and the role of the family in education, the latter should become an institution to stimulate communication social from the earliest ages involving parents, siblings and other family members directly in this intervention process, as socializing agents.

The process that is carried out in the educational institution together with the other agencies and agents involved in the stimulation of the affected areas, must maintain a close bond, should not be due to sporadic contacts but reciprocal and systematic.

Communication has many components. All serve to increase the way in which people learn from the world around them and use their knowledge, skills, emotions, feelings, needs and interests, to share with their colleagues, family and friends, from the acquired experiences.

Although communication generally implies the use of a language such as Spanish, Chinese or a sign system, it does not depend exclusively on language. For example, by pointing to an object we can make someone look at it; Raising the arms a small student can get caught or smiling a person can communicate feelings of well-being.

LS Vigotski (1989) expressed the role of the experience in the psychic development of the student , relating this term to the concept of social situation of development or Dynamic Law of Development. For him, the experience is the psychological unit in which he expressed himself, both the environment, the experience of the student, and what the infant himself incorporates or contributes to the experience, from the level already reached by him in his development. He also stressed that without the mobilizing-affective function, there is no development of man. 

Experience determines how it influences the development of an educating one or another aspect of the environment. The essential thing is not the situation itself in its absolute indices, but the way in which the student lives this situation. In this way, it is in the experience where the medium is articulated in its relationship with the person, the way in which she lives and also the peculiarities of the development of her own "I" are manifested.

The interrelation between affective and cognitive activity allows them to mutually condition each other in the regulatory function of personality. "The harmony of this relationship allows the subject to reflect in an objective way the world, to establish the correspondence between their emotional experiences and the content of their activity.

Due to the relationships established between the members of the school-family-community, it constitutes a potential for social self-transformation and training of the subjects, since this is how the society-group-individual relationship is concretized, where each subject receives singular and simultaneous way the social influences from the experiences.

Vigotski recognized in the student the presence of the so-called sensitive periods for the development of certain psychic functions and these periods are characterized by a high sensitivity of the student to the influence of social factors and favor the affective function of these functions.

In this regard, the Vigotski river is assumed, referring to the fact that the first years of life are the most saturated and content-rich period, denser, full of value and development in general . All students do not develop in the same way, for this reason the application of educational responses must be open to diversity.

For the early childhood educator , with autism spectrum disorder, it is necessary that they be offered all the resources and supports necessary for their development, hence the importance of using alternative and augmentative systems that allow the development of their communication, development of Basic social skills and learning.

Among these supports, the use of visual cues, pictograms, signed speech, communication boards, used by the educational institution, which favor learning based on the structuring of environments and reduce behavioral problems.

In students with ASD, their main needs are not always adequately met, either by excess or by default, being observed in some families overprotective, permissive, inconsequential or rejection behaviors, lack of understanding of the disorder, the sense of guilt, the social isolation and difficulty accepting the diagnosis, which in turn generate vi distressing or negative Vencias at home.

It was observed that the above experiences, impact on the emotional state of the relatives , appearing in most cases : anxiety, fraud r, fear, anxiety and insecurity. This in turn negatively impacts these educating s , even if they are not able to establish a proper relationship between the stimulus they receive from the media and the response that occurs, evidenced in dificult ades in their communication and social interaction with the group, contemporaries and adults around him.

In a general sense, affectivity plays a fundamental role in the development of life: through it, men interact with each other, with the world and with ourselves. Within the mechanisms of affectivity, emotions have an important role, they are extremely unstable, poorly balanced, and can manifest in fear, depression, joy, sadness and anger.

This work allowed consider the emotions approach is based on the difficulties of educating s with ASD to attribute mental states and other representations, in what is calls ado deficit theory M entity. (Baron-Cohen, S. and Howlin, P. 1993)

In general, the emotions of students with ASD are characterized by:

It was found that the elements described above are characteristic of a TEA box, but do not appear simultaneously on all students, due to the variability of the disorder and the level of development. In addition, some may also be present in other types of disorders (TDHA, Mental Retardation, Mixed Language Disorder); Therefore, a thorough observation of the students' development during their first years of life, Saldaña, (2014) is essential in order to establish a differential diagnosis between ASD and other disorders.

In this sense, the overcoming of the promoters of PETH, Torres, Aguiar, Estévez & Amor, (2018) allowed to provide adequate attention to the needs of students with autism spectrum disorder in their development, by providing the theoretical tools and methodological that facilitate the orientation to the families in this direction.

In this way, it was possible to provide adequate guidance to the family regarding the reason for their child's behavior and how to approach an intervention that favors and optimizes their integral development.

The methods applied and bibliographic review on the subject show the need to continue deeper studies to improve the quality of early stimulation Zalaquett, Schonstedt, Angeli, H Errera, Moyano, (2015) . It is then considered of interest to guarantee the adequate preparation of social mediators in the experiential exploration of educational contexts, in order to achieve an adequate structuring of them, in a way that favors a greater stimulation of communication from the implementation of SAAC, and that guarantees a better socioeducational insertion of students with autism spectrum disorders.

The proposed methodology is a tool aimed at stimulating communication based on experiential exploration, from social and instrumental mediation, the evaluation and structuring of educational environments. It promotes also the use of teaching resources, experiences and take advantage of ducandos in different contexts, of which allow the design and adjustment of actions that favor the development of communication from the potentials and needs of these students.

The vast majority of families and teachers recognize that the psychopedagogical intervention is relevant from an early age. S owever, stimulating communication, is one of the challenges and concerns of interest.

Based on the results obtained, educational needs were identified in the area of communication, students with ASD need:

All these ideas provide a peculiar character to the process for the stimulation of communication from ages early s, from the need for proper structuring of contexts, learners with ASD 3-6 years.



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