Beyond Requesting: Let’s Chat with Peers

February 23, 2013 by - 4 Comments

Beyond requesting Let's Chat with Peers
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As we wrap up the February Strategy of the Month, we need to add strategies for helping AAC users talk/chat with peers. For some learners, it is more about providing access and opportunity while for others, it is more about providing a platform for the social awareness and exchange. However, for all  learners who need assistance in ‘chatting’, there are many goals and strategies that will help.

 Kids painting on easel

Setting the Foundation for Social Exchanges with Peers

  • Provide frequent opportunities for peers to communicate with each other- Build in many opportunities within all (or almost all) activities for generic small talk, gossiping, & chatting.
  • Create activities that have’ built in’ communication with peers- develop activities that require communication with peers to make the activity work. Instead of having all communication directed at the adults/facilitators in the room, have the learners talk to peers to take steps in the activity. Set up joint action routines that require learners to take a role that is dependent on what a peer says or does.
  • Use activities that have predictable structure- By developing activities with predictable and familiar structure, learners will know when and what to do when it is their turn. When peer-to-peer communication is part of the structure, all learners can be successful over time.
  • Provide access to appropriate core word and small talk vocabulary– Make sure learners have quick access to appropriate vocabulary that allows for initiation and continuation of small talk.

Kids with wagon

Strategies for Teaching

This is where some of the strategies remain the same as with any language teaching, as well as some new strategies help specifically with social exchanges for peers.

kids celebrating


Activity Possible Goals Setting Foundation Specific Targets
Show & Tell To share information with peers
To ask questions from peers
To comment to peers
Predictable structure
Daily opportunity (may even have 2 show & tell’s per day)
Peers do the commenting and questioning
“cool”, “wow”, “tell us more”, “what else about it”, “where did you get it”, etc
Group Art Project To comment to peers Frequent opportunities to comment within the activity “pretty”, “that’s beautiful”, ‘my favorite”, “what do you think”, “awesome”
Group Cooking
Snack Time
Lunch Time
To share information with peers (on steps of recipe)
To comment to peers
Predictable structure
Frequent daily opportunities
“delicious”, “not good”, “oh no”,
Chat Clubs
Chat Times
Gossip Times
To participate small talk with peers
To complete ___ social communication exchanges with peers
Frequent opportunities especially if at each transition between classroom/session activities calls for a ‘chat’ or ‘gossip’ time’
Adult facilitator  could release ‘gossip’ right before activity ends.
“hey”, “oh no”, “look”,”funny”, “again”, “I know”
Class Surveys
Class Votes
To ask questions of peers
To comment
Predictable structure
Frequent opportunities
Built in peer communication
“what do you think”, “hi”, “no way”,
Class Jobs (i.e., attendance, news, plant watering, class commenter/
reinforcer etc.)
To provide information to peers
To comment to peers
Predictable structure
Frequent opportunties
“hey”, “cool”, “love it”, “goes there”, “really”, “that’s all”

kids line leader

Social communication makes up more than 50% of our communication. For AAC learners, we need to provide opportunities, access, and specific teaching to facilitate  range and complexity of social interaction and communication skills.

Further resources on social exchanges and AAC small talk vocabulary- Let’s Get Social & AAC Apps for Small TalkThanks as always Jane Farrall





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This post was written by Robin Parker


  • Jill says:

    You guys are simply awesome! I love love love this site. I think so many SLPs are afraid of AAC only because they aren’t comfortable doing it! But y’all lay it out so clearly that I have forwarded countless articles on to SPED teachers and SLPs alike. I just wanted to finally take a second to tell you that! Thanks for all of the sample goals, examples, ideas etc. Keep it coming!

    • Avatar photo Robin Parker says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write. A goal/intent of ours has always been to share information about AAC so that more SLP’s, teachers, parents, etc. feel comfortable providing communication instruction. Your comment helps make us feel like we are moving in the right direction. And this ultimately will help more children and adults learn to communicate successfully which is another main goal of our blogging. So after a long difficult day, thank you very much!

  • Jane Farrall says:


    I couldn’t agree with Jill more. You and Carole both share such great resources that I refer people to constantly – thank YOU!!!!

    I was just talking with a group of teachers about this topic yesterday so it’s perfect timing to do a follow up email pointing them to this post 🙂



  • It is truly a nice and helpful piece of information. I am glad that yoou shared thiss helpful info with
    us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

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