5 Ways to Support Multimodal Communicators

January 13, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts

5 Ways to Support Multimodal Communicators
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Like you, we are always looking at ways to take communication and language to the next level. We’re never really satisfied. Although we may be thrilled with things that our AAC friends are doing now, we can’t stop thinking about the next step. And often that involves helping communication partners facilitate the language learning process. When multimodal communicators interact, we try to react to solidify the language learning. 

Here’s are some of the things that have helped communication partners we’ve worked with. We’re learning to REACT by responding, expanding, acting, commenting, and turn-taking.


1.   Respond to the Intent.

What is the communicator trying to tell you? If you know what, then start doing it. If you’re not sure, take your best guess and start doing it.  For the emerging communicator, respond quickly. For the more established communicator, begin to respond quickly so they know that you ‘got’ the message, but move slowly towards completion as it gives time for the learner to add more language.

2. Expand the Communication.

Make the utterance a little bit longer.  We’ve also called this strategy ‘Add a word’ (or symbol).   If the communication had no words at all, then model a single word or symbol. If there is one word/symbol, then model two words, and so on until the four word level. At that point, you can add many words involving a related concepts.

3.  Act in accordance with the tone of the message.  

Use  positive vocal tone and facial expression if the message involves requesting or greeting.  Use a more sad, disappointed, or frustrated tone and facial expression if the communication involves some negative. If the communicator is unhappy, doesn’t like something, or is upset at a situation use a tone that matches their mood. E.g,”I know it’s terrible to get the small chair instead of the big soft  one.”

4. Comment back. 

Make a comment about the message rather than ask a question. Questions = testing; Comments = conversation 

5.  Take a Turn.

Take a turn to express a similar type of communicative act so you can model the next level of development.

Hope you have fun REACTing this weekend with some of your favorite people who use AAC!

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This post was written by Robin Parker

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