Wednesday, 1 October 2008

I can... get to know you!

Since starting back to school in early September, your students have likely had several opportunities to meet new people: teachers, classmates, support personnel, even a new bus driver.  Meeting new people can be challenging, particularly for students who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Here are some ideas to make this a less stressful process.

Here are some vocabulary suggestions for getting to know new people:

Great to meet you!
Let’s trade e-mail addresses.
What’s your name?
There are some things you need to know about how I communicate…
I’d like to remember your name. Can you help me add it to my device?
I need to compose my message. It will take a few minutes – can you wait?
Tell me something about yourself.
Check out my “All About Me Book”, it’s in my backpack.
I don’t think we’ve met. My name is …
Do you have time to talk?
Please get my symbol display.
How are you doing today?

Communication Passports or All About Me books

Communication passports are books that present an overall picture of a person. They are written in a way which reflects the person’s personality and can include the following:

  • general background information including details about likes & dislikes, family and friends;
  • a description of how the person communicates and how others can best communicate with them;
  • a summary of the person’s views and preferences.
Communication passports are best created in partnership with the person who will “own” the  finished product. They need to be unique and engaging to others. These resources are particularly useful at times of transition, for example when a student moves from elementary school to high school. Check out the following website for details on how to develop a Communication Passport and templates that can be used.

No-Tech Ideas

·         People can be nervous about talking to an individual who uses AAC. Help your student create a personal introduction to their communication system. Write a short paragraph about how the system is used and how the student wants the listener to help. Post it in a place, where all listeners will notice it & read it, for example on a tray or a wheelchair.

Light Tech Ideas

·         Ablenet carries a range of introductory devices that work well for students who want to share information or news. The good news is that they have recently improved some of the devices, such as the Step-by-StepTM, which now has 2 full minutes of recording time, better digital sound and improved battery life. Makes a great Christmas gift!

 High Tech Ideas

·         Some devices have Internet, email and messaging capabilities. Chat with your ACS clinician to find out more about this.

·         Remember your Internet safety tips

Fun Stuff!

Opportunities to Learn
Coming Spring 2009!     
ICE (Independence, Community & Empowerment) Conference:
“It’s All About Hope”
This is an event created by and for individuals who use AAC and their families. It was designed to bring the community of people who use AAC together to share ideas, learn from each other, and create new friendships. Watch for more info in “I Can”.

Artistic Touch
This program is designed for youth who would like to get together in a supportive setting to learn and experience the areas of acrylic paint, sculpting, drawing, take part in an art exhibit and more.  For budding artists 13 years and up.

Date: Saturdays: Oct 18 - Dec 6, 2008
Time: 10 - 11:30am
Location: TVCC, London
Fee: $85

Resources for families and educators: Check out the following websites for great ideas…

          · A Talking Photo Album is a great way to share information about activities that interest a student:
· Community Success Software presents step-by-step illustrated instruction in community activities and the social skills needed for each activity:
· Read more information about the 2007 ICE conference (See “Opportunities to Learn”): media/omod_news/2007/ICE2007.htm