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Monday, October 6, 2014

Are Your AAC Users Prepared to Talk About Halloween?

October is here.  I love the fall and here in Southern California it is finally thinking about cooling off.  Although, today is supposed to be in the 90’s.  Oh well.
(And if, like me, you live in an area with a greater chance of fires, don’t forget to grab last week’s fire drill visual symbols!)

This week, I am joining the crowd and gearing up for Halloween.  With today’s free communication board students have the vocabulary to talk about Halloween.  Give them the opportunity and tools to talk about scary books and silly costumes and pumpkins that are frightening and funny.

All too often our nonverbal students get left out of the fun, even when they’re included in all-school events.  Costume parades and parties and group assemblies can all be great places to practice using your language skills.  But without an adequate aac system, our students don’t have a way to engage with peers.

This illustrates one of the problems I have with the PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) books and boards.   I want students to do more than say “I want…” or “I see…”  I want them to describe what they see, or how they feel.  I want them to be able to tell someone, “I like your costume,” or “That’s so… (cool, funny, scary, silly, awesome, etc.).  And I want them to have the core words to combine into phrases or, if they aren’t doing that yet, that staff can use to model using phrases.
And you know what?  Students don't need to be using all of these words before their communication partners use them to model.  Having the words available to them and having others use them is the best way to teach the student to use them.
SO, grab this Halloween topic board and use it.  Halloween is a great opportunity for building vocabulary and language.

How are your kids describing Halloween?