5 Ways to Build Awareness of the Power of Communication

February 19, 2014 by - 1 Comment

5 Ways to Build Awareness of the Power of Communication
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Awhile back I helped a graduate student clinician lead a session with some children who do not yet have AAC systems in place. Communicating with pictures is hard for them and doesn’t yet make sense. They haven’t connected the dots to see that when they use these picture-based materials, they can influence the environment in a way that makes their lives more interesting and fun.  

Our first step was to help them begin to understand that they could control aspects of their environment. Here are some things we did to help the AAC learners feel the power of communication.

1. Made communication easy: Talking switches and sequential communicators are great ways for learners to get a big payoff with little effort. In classrooms where there was no functioning technology, we used free apps for mobile devices and paper-based communication boards.

2. Made the response big and fun: Think silly, ridiculous, extreme, over-the-top. Enhance learning and retention by finding a way to make the pay-off memorable.

3. Repetition with variety: We met their need for repetition and practice by changing up the specifics. Switching things up to include different messages, activities, topics, and partners kept it fresh and interesting.

The point is this: We don’t have to be experts or have expensive equipment to get kids hooked on the power of communication.

4. Ensured success: We provided physical and gestural support, when necessary, so that they students ‘got it right.’ Before we focus on independence, we need to give them a taste of how it feels to be successful. If they need help to make that happen, that’s just fine for now.

5. Wrote about it: Before we wrapped up for the day, we wrote an impromptu narrative about the experience. Not only did that lend an air of ‘importance’ to the experience, but it was also a great way to share what we did with the students’ families.

 How do YOU help beginning AAC learners experience the power of communication? We’re ready for some fresh, prAACtical ideas.

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This post was written by Carole Zangari

1 Comment

  • Bridget says:

    When teaching using the PODD or TouchChat on the IPad I hit different skills or phrases each time. I use the same pictures in the device to show them- model it and put the picture example in a binder. Now I have my own little curriculum. I love AAC. I am a second year teacher, first with nonverbal students at the highschool level. It is so fun to see students finally being able to express themselves after 16 years!!!

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