Sunday, June 25, 2017

C is for Core: More AAC From A to Z

I'm sure you've read all my numerous posts about using core words when teaching emerging and transitioning communicators how to communicate with AAC.  

While we don't want to forget the very important fringe words (lower frequency words) that the specific user needs and wants, we do base out language building on use of core vocabulary.



Here is a quick video you can watch that helps to explain what core vocabulary is and why we use it. You can also see it here and get the handout that goes with it.
Core words are not just for AAC users.  The research tells us that, for the average adult, 300-500 core words compromise about 80% of what we say.
For the average toddler, there are only 25 words that they use for more than 95% of what they say.  Think about how much your beginning communicator could say with just 25 core words; particularly as they can use 2 and 3 word combinations.

Have fun watching, and........Keep on Talking!



Sunday, June 18, 2017

P is for Planning: More AAC From A to Z

In past posts I've talked about planning what to say and model during an activity where you're using Aided Language Stimulation to focus on core words and language used within routines or activities.



When you're just learning a system, it can be difficult for  you, the communication partner, to navigate the unfamiliar AAC system in order to provide the aided input.  That's why it is important for you to plan out what you're going to say and learn where the vocabulary is that you will need.




I have provided some planning sheets in the past, and you can find a detailed one for free in my TPT store here.
I am also including a link here to a video all about planning out your aided input for a given activity.  There are examples in the first handout, and information in the video you should find useful.


Are there other topics you would like to see me cover in this blog?  Please feel free to comment below with topic requests, and I'll do my best to cover them.
In the meantime, have a great summer and......... Keep on Talking!



Sunday, June 11, 2017

Communication Everywhere?!

“Spring has sprung. The grass has ris.’  I wonder where the birdies is.”  You don’t hear that too often anymore, but “back in my day” (the Dark Ages, that is) you used to hear it all the time.   
Here in Southern California it’s almost always time to go outside, but I do remember those cold Massachusetts days hoping that Spring was coming soon.



Warm weather means walks through the neighborhood, picnics and beach trips, kite flying and playground fun, trips to the park and evenings on the porch.  

Do you know what else all of those things mean?  Great opportunities to expand your child’s communication skills.  Especially if you have a child who is using AAC (augmentative-alternative communication) and needs practice in finding and using the varied vocabulary that those experiences need.

Many kids with disabilities don’t get the same experiences as other children; thus they don’t acquire the background knowledge needed when these topics or experiences come up in conversations or books.  And they don’t learn the unique vocabulary of each of these experiences.

Our kids with significant communication needs really need for us to give them genuine communication opportunities in real-life situations.  So don’t go to the beach or the park, or even for a walk around the block, without their AAC system.

I recently took a walk around the block with a young man and his AAC system.  When we got to the end of the block, I pointed to the Stop sign and told him “We have to stop,” using both spoken words and core words in his AAC system.  I was also able to model use of describing words; such as bright, pretty, and broken.

Smarty Symbols; all rights reserved



One of my all-time favorite activities when my kids were little was going on a picnic.  Preparing the food was more fun than chore when the objective was a picnic.  Grab the toys, pack the blankets, and head outside.

We always had one or two favorite picnic spots.  When my son was really young we lived near a great little park with a pond and ducks, and one particularly mean goose.  Having a picnic invariably meant having lots of feathered friends around us, just waiting for the crumbs.

For your AAC user, this experience would have engendered the words careful, bite, loud, soft, run, eat, and even fight

If you have  an emerging communicator use these fun activities to have meaningful interactions with the child. Remember to model using relevant vocabulary, core words, and lots of comments.  What can you say when modeling?

Feeding the ducks (or, in one young man’s case, feeding the sea lion): hold it, throw it, they’re hungry, don’t fight, throw more, give it to him, need more?



Flying a kite: hold tight, pick it up, run, look, it’s flying, it’s high, uh oh, it fell down, try again

Blowing bubbles: blow, blow again, big bubbles, little bubbles, catch it, pop it, uh oh, all gone, do more

Taking a walk: go, stop, watch, watch out, look there, look at that, cross now, those are pretty,  see the dog/cat/bird?, walk slowly, go fast, don’t go, that’s a tall tree 
Walking the dog: let’s go, hold tight, walk slower, walk faster, not there, go here, look there, see that?, pretty flowers, that’s nice, I like this, don’t stop, let’s turn, big tree, look, home, all done, go in


Here is a topic-specific communication board to take with you on picnics.  (Just right click to download).
Remember that activity-based communication boards do not take the place of a robust AAC system, and should never be all that a child has to use.  But they can be useful in the midst of a specific activity - as long as you have ways for your user to talk about other things, or let you know that’s what he wants to do.



Have a great Spring and Summer!  Stay sunny, and Keep on Talking!



Sunday, June 4, 2017

Top 5 Tips for Teaching AAC


I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed on Carrie Clark's Speech Show.   If you've ever been curious about what I look like, how I sound, and what I have to say on the subject, check it out here.


That should keep you busy until next week.
Enjoy, and..... keep on talking!