How I Do It: Preparing AAC Learners for Their First SGD
One of the greatest privileges of being an AAC SLP is getting to see kids grow and mature when they are given the appropriate communication tools and supports. The other day, I observed a tall, strong young man with significant autism arrive at this therapy session carrying a padded case. Once in the room, he gently laid it on the table, carefully opened it, took out his SGD, and gingerly placed it on the table in front of him. He had gotten his first SGD this summer as a tween, after having used the one in our AAC lab in his therapy sessions for the preceding months.
There were some concerns that when he got his own SGD, he might be a little confused initially since this would be the first time he could actually take the device home. Additionally, some were worried that he might be rough with it and cause it to break. It wasn’t particularly worrisome to us, but these were certainly valid concerns and part of our job is to address concerns like these. It turns out that one strategy helped with both issues: Social narratives.
We frequently developed social narratives for this student in the past to help him better understand expected behavior and changes in routines. It was a perfect fit for this situation, too. Basically, we developed a social narrative using PowerPoint, read the book on the computer a few times at the start of therapy sessions, then sent a copy home for him to read with his parents in the week before his device arrived.
His family and therapists worked together to reinforce these concepts during the first two weeks while the device was new. The result was that he better understood the shift from our device to his and treated his new device with care.
You can download a copy of it here or going to the ‘downloads’ section of our AAC eToolbox. You’ll need to customize it with images of the appropriate SGD and add in names of therapists and family members to individualize the concept, of course.
What strategies do you use to help AAC learners prepare for their first SGD? We’d love to hear about things that have worked for you.
Filed under: PrAACtical Thinking
This post was written by Carole Zangari