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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!”

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