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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.

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