Monday, October 17, 2016

No time to create low-tech AAC boards? Read on.....

...After just attending the International Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) conference this past August, we here at NCCSE AAC/AT (yep, me and Lydia) can officially (and internationally) confirm and support our mantra:

Core!  CORE!! AND MORE CORE!!!     graphic of the 36 location board

The concept is driven by that fact that as verbal speakers, the highest frequency words we use daily make up about 80% of our vocabulary and 20% is "fringe" or topic/theme specific words. Therefore, why wouldn't we model and provide input to our non-verbal students using these core words. We are simply giving them access to a core bank of words they can use in most any situation, any setting, any activity, to uses anytime they want.

So you say, "I don't have time to make these boards. Plus I don't know what words to put on a core board."  Your concerns have been heard and answered! Here's a great "click + download +  print"  or just "click + print" link in which the work has already been done:

You don't even need to have Boardmaker!  These wonderful folks at UNC Chapel Hill Center for Literacy and Disabilities have even put out the communication boards in pdf format!

Remember, model core vocabulary using Aided Language Stimulation (ALS) as a means to provide much needed input for your students. Down with the demands means we, the communication partner, model our verbal input paired to symbol icons on the student's AAC system without the student having to do anything but attend to the model.

Here's a wonderful example of this in action as Lynsey, classroom staff in Vista, balances her timing of modeling when her student is attending and positively rewarding him for sitting during whole group. Once he has earned his "X's" , she models: "go+get" and allows him to decide if he should go get the desired item or Lynsey should. Way to provide great input Lynsey without demands on him!!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Knock Knock... Who's There? Are you having fun yet with AAC? You should!!

"How come there's no Knock Knock joke about America?"
"Because freedom rings!"

"Do they have a 4th of July in England?"
"Yes. That's how they get from the 3rd to the 5th!"

"What do you get when you cross a duck with a firework?"
"A firequacker!"

It is without a doubt we use communication for a wide range of purposes, especially social interactions. Arguably, we communicate for social pleasure perhaps more than any other reason. All too often, partners of students who use AAC forget to have fun when chatting with them. Teaching them the symbols paired to social chatting for the purposes of quick greetings ("What's up?"  "How ya doing?"  "What's goin' on?"), age appropriate reactions ("Whoooaaa!"  "No way dude!"  "That's sweet!"), and being funny....telling jokes (Yes, that's right, telling jokes) adds an element of engagement that may be missing in their day. We all have a funny side, maybe a sarcastic side, or maybe a dry humor side. Just like any symbol communication, if it's not modeled or made accessible, then our AAC users have no way to express it. Additionally, we all know that AAC and symbol communication learning is contingent on highly preferred, highly motivating, and highly engaging, contextual situations. How engaging, motivating, and exciting is it to make the people in our lives laugh?  Laughter is the BEST medicine for many things that are difficult in our lives!  PrAACtical has a wonderful list of joke resources that will be sure to put a smile on the faces of any of the students you work with:

You can use these jokes on any AAC from the lowest-tech static speech generating devices, such as sequencers, to the highest-tech systems such as an iPad with communication app. In doing so, you create a simple means to teach the cause-effectness of their initiation producing a response in their environment (usually a happy face or laugh from their partners). You also increase their accuracy in selecting icons in a sequence with intent, But most of all, you are tapping into another communication form that is often missing in their social expression.

With the end of the school year right and summer fun right around the corner, why not spend these last few weeks just "jokin' around" with your students? Program and model, model, MODEL some joke telling on their AAC and share a few smiles and laughs together.