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Monday, April 13, 2015

Are You Ready for Social Communication?

Just a quick post to let you know, Language Learning Apps, LLC (that's my app development company, developer of Question It - THE answer for teaching kids with autism and CCN how to answer Wh-qeustions and SoundSwaps for teaching struggling spellers how to move and change sounds in words)  is one of the sponsors of ASHA's upcoming online Social Communication Conference.
If you're a SLP this is a must-see event.  

Hope to "see" you there.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Expanding Communication Functions and Syntax: How Many Reasons & How Many Words

I’ve spent the past several blog posts talking about expanding response length for AAC users.  Once we get them past the one word/symbol stage, where do we go?  How do we get there?

One of the questions I get asked a lot is, “What order does it go in? What are my targets?”  Many parents, teachers, and sometimes even SLPs aren’t sure where to go once the AAC user is starting to use some single word/symbol responses consistently.  To the SLPs, I say, “Just like you do with everyone else” -  a phrase I say a lot.  Intervention with AAC users doesn’t need to be different, it just needs to be more direct and directed.

So today’s post is about expanding words and phrase for a variety of communication functions, with progression examples for them.  As language expands, the length of response and grammatical and morphological forms change and increase.  If you look at how quickly morphological markers and tenses come about, you will see why it is necessary for AAC users to have access to a robust AAC system that provides them with not only core words but also ways to mark possession, time/tense, plurals, and more.
It’s a short post, but hopefully readers will find it useful.

Stage 1: MLU (mean length of utterance) 1.0
Mama, ball, dog, no, all gone, more, big, dirty, mine, eat, drink, play, go, up, that

Stage 2: MLU 1.2
My mama, that ball, no more, all gone, no, big ball, my nose, eat cracker, drink juice, up

Stage 3: MLU 2.0
that big ball, that my mama, me do it, Mama read this, cat go there, me up, Daddy go work, me eat cracker, I want book, more bubbles

Stage 4: MLU 2.5
what that?, Mama give cracker, ball in box, there 2 balls, get big ball, wash dirty hands, Mama get more cracker, I eat my cracker, not do it, can’t do it, no want that, that my cracker, I want go out, I want go there 

Stage 5: MLU 3.0
that’s my Mama, that’s cat, I not tired, that not cat, I want play there, put it in bed, put that on me, Mama not going out, Who is this?/Who this?, I washing my hands, I can’t read, I have some crackers, I want some that, I want that cat, I want red one, I want more cracker, go see Mama and daddy

More next week.  Keep on talking.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Like Free Resources? Want to Add a Bargain?

I try very hard not to use this blog for marketing purposes.  That's  not why I write it, and not what you are looking for when you read it.  I'm all about the information, tips, and free resources I write about and post here.
But every once in a while I post special sales and bargains you might want to know about.
This week there are two specials I want to tell you about.

One, my resource Language Activity Sampler is FREE in my TeachersPayTeachers store for this whole week.  This resource contains a variety of resource/activity samples; including practice with communication symbol sequences for AAC users, 2 free core word based picture communication boards for AAC users (a core word board and a library time board), a categorizing activity for young children and/or beginning language users, a small expressive and receptive language board game, a barrier game activity for building receptive and expressive language skills, and sample pages from an interactive book about seeing shapes in everyday objects.

Also, a bargain.  Actually, A barrel-full of bargains.  Tuesday is the monthly #SLPMustHave sale at Teacher Pay Teachers.  A group of speech-language pathologists offer one resource at half-price on the 7th of almost every month.  Don't miss this month, it may be the last Must Have sale for a little while.

I'm offering my Answering Wh Questions About Pictures for Expressive Language for this month's half-price resource. 

And while we're on the subject of sales, my Question It app is still on sale.  The half-price sale began April  2, for Autism Awareness Day and continues until April 5.

SoundSwaps app is half prices for the entire month of April!  Catch them both.

More free and useful information, tips, and resources coming soon.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Where Did the Week Go? I Lost It.

Holy cow! Last week got right by me and I forgot to post.  Life’s a whirl-wind right now. Busy at work and, on top of it, developing an AAC course.  But no excuse to leave the blog hanging.

So, I promised to keep talking about expanding response length.  

One of the ways we do this naturally is by modeling and doing “recasts.”  

Remember that Aided Language Input?  Keep up those models, focusing on providing picture sequences at one level above what the user is currently doing.  

So, if your AAC user is using single word responses, model 2 word responses as you provide that aided input.  If he is using 2 or 3 word phrases, you model 3-4 word phrases.

Additionally, partners should be using a recast and expand method to build “good” language.  This is the process by which the partner repeats what the AAC user has said, but with one more word, one more grammatical or morphological element, or with an error repaired. 

So, if my AAC user says, “more,” I am going to acknowledge and affirm that response, and say, “want more,” or “more that,” or “give more,” or even “more __” where appropriate.  If my student responds with, “more some,” or “I more some,”  I might say, “Yes, more that. Want more that” or “want some more. I want some more.”  Consistently using aided language stimulation got us to the one word response, and it can get us to the two word response and beyond, too.

Sometimes, those pesky IEP goals might have locked you into a specific structure for expanding responses.  Often I see IEP goals written for the student to use a specific carrier phrase + (word).  The most common are, “I want _,” and, “I see_.”  I’m not a big fan of these as the annual goal, but they can be useful as intermediate objectives to build longer responses.  I’d much rather use “it” and “that” as the filler in the blank, while building phrases that include those two, but also add, “I have _,” and “I get _,” and even “(that) is mine,”  “(it) is your,” and the list goes on.

So go ahead and focus on your target in therapy sessions and make sure it gets carried over in class and at home.  Building phrases one structure at a time can be a solid way to go for many kids, and keeps everyone on the same page, moving in the same direction.  
 “I see _” is a really easy phrase to build opportunities for into therapy games and activities, classroom contexts, and riding in the car with mom.  The environment is always available.

One activity that is used often in speech-language therapy sessions is “The Mystery Bag.”  It is amazing how much use you can get out of a brown paper bag holding a variety of small toys and/or everyday objects.  For many verbal children the target is to describe or define well enough to make guessing the item easy for others.  
For AAC users this, too, can be a great target. But for students just beginning to expand responses with carrier phrases, it works well for the, “I have_,” structure, where the blank is filled in by an adjective + noun.  Just make sure you have a communication board with the items and adjectives on it, or that the student’s AAC system has sufficient vocabulary.   

I love using different colored erasers for this activity when I’m working on colors.  They might not be realistic, but it is fun to declare, “I have (or see) blue elephant.”

 Once again, keep focusing on the types of utterance expansion you do with your verbal kids who are at about the same peel of language expression, maybe modify your activities to focus on core vocabulary, and you will be heading in the right direction.  Don’t doubt your clinical skills.  “You have it!”