Tuesday, 1 January 2013

I can...talk about anything!

 Happy New Year!  January is an exciting time to change things up and try something new. In our daily conversations we greet people, ask questions, comment, describe and that's all before a cup of coffee!  Many kids who use AAC are great at making requests but there is so much more to say!  In this issue, we will explore ways we can get our students talking about anything.

Communicating, not just responding…All too often, and with all good intention, we provide many prompts to steer our kids in the right direction. “It’s your turn to ask a question. Find your question words. Push the button and tell us what your question is.” Sometimes our students learn to wait for these prompts, before using their vocabulary.

Think about some fun ways to allow your students to experience using their words for different reasons.  This will encourage your child to naturally use these language functions. For example, bring items for an activity in a bag and tempt the students to ask “what?”. Have a “special guest” come to the classroom, hiding behind a mask on a popsicle stick to encourage “who?”. The mask could have the corresponding “who” symbol right on the front, to remind students which symbol they are looking for.

Puppets are great props for encouraging kids to talk, and allow you to act as facilitator. If your puppet keeps falling asleep, you need to get his attention. If your puppet has a secret in a box, you can ask him what it is. You can comment on how your puppet is feeling.

Add symbol labels into the environment, to further develop your child’s understanding of how these symbols can be used – not just labels, but language to show how those symbols can be used: “go out” on the door, “put in” on the drawer, “talk to me” on the phone. 

Communication Functions:   
There are a variety of reasons why and how we communicate. Encourage your student to expand their communication by modelling the use of symbols for them in context.  You can do this by using their existing vocabulary on a device or using low tech.  If your student has a core words page, this is an excellent place to show them how to use core to say so many things.

Review your child's core word page and see how he/she could communicate beyond choice making.  You can also download this core word page at Boardmaker Share (if you own a copy of Boardmaker Software).

Communication functions
Ways to say it with core words
Turn Taking
"I + go", "you + go"
Calling Attention
"look + it"
"not + want", "all done"
"I + see+ you"
Asking a Question
"I + like + it", "I + not+ like +it"
Directing Action
"again", "get + it"
Responding to Questions
"more", "all done"
"big", "little"
"you eat"
Express Emotion
"good+ good", "bad", "like" "not + like"

"Okey Dokey Artichokey!"
Kids may also enjoy using phrases commonly used by others.  Ask peers what words or phrases they would use for different communication functions such as greetings, clarifying, calling attention, asking questions etc.  Be sure to check with the child who is using AC, that they would like to use this type of vocabulary.  Review the vocabulary as kids grow, they may want to change the way they are saying something.

Here is a list of suggested phrases from Linda Burkhart and Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite
Anatomy of a conversation: http://www.lburkhart.com/chat_ideas.htm

Upcoming Events

We're All Stars!
Celebrate the 20th anniversary of this event - meet some sport celebrities and listen to some inspiring stories from our very own TVCC clients.If you are a child or youth with special needs, 10 years of age and older (accompanied by an adult) you are invited to join in a magical experience, be inspired by peers and share a pizza lunch & cookies at the We’re All Stars
When: February 11th, 2013 10-2pm
Tickets available through TVDSB or LDCSB.
Where: London Convention Centre

Breaking the Ice Conference
The Breaking the ICE Canada conference is an event created by and for individuals who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and their families. This conference is the only event of its kind in Canada and was designed to bring the community of people who use AAC together to share ideas, learn from each other, and create new friendships.

When: June 7-9th, 2013
Where: University of Toronto residence
Here's what some of our TVCC families had to say about this event:  http://icannews.blogspot.ca/2011_09_01_archive.html