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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Can I Make a Comment? 10 Things I Like.

Before I go on with the blog post, let me remind those of you who are here as a part of the scavenger hunt blog hop from Beautiful Speech to look for the secret word.  Hint: Think of your favorite greeting card store. (Hallmark)(It's right below the list of functions)

AAC users and other emergent communicators are often pretty good at requesting.  It's usually the first thing they are taught to express by words or pictures.
Too often their early language focus is on nouns; the things they like and want the most.  Many programs use these to motivate students.  Parents often want to "just know what he wants!"
But there are many more reasons to communicate.  For many of the students with Autism Spectrum Disorder that I work with, the most important reasons to communicate include, "Go away," "I need break," "Let's do something different," Something is wrong," and "I don't want to."

What are some other reasons to communicate?  Here's a list:
request attention
request an object
request an action
request assistance
request for recurrence
request affection
request cessation
greet & farewell
affirm or deny
reject or refuse
request information
comment about an object or person
comment about an action
comment about the time or place
express emotions

Focusing on communicative intent is the hallmark of Gayle Porter's PODD communication system - Pragmatic Organized Dynamic Display.  The name says it all.  The instructional focus is on Aided Language Stimulation and modeling how to find the words for the different types of messages one uses.
I have had some amazing success stories with the PODD books with kids I've evaluated and consulted on.
But your students don't have to use a PODD for you to target increasing communicative functions.

One of the first functions (after that basic requesting, which they usually have down pat) that I like to focus on is commenting.  There are always many opportunities throughout the day for teaching this.
During circle or calendar time: It's hot (or cold).  It's yucky (outside). I'm fine (or tired or sad).
During snack and lunch (always easy times for commenting): Yummy.  Yuck!  It's good (or bad).  I like it (don't like it).
During task time: I don't want to. It's fun. It's hard. No like.
Recess or play time: I like it.  Fun. Happy.
Story time: Funny. Scary. Like it.  Good (or bad).

If I'm starting with just one target comment, it's usually, "I like it."  It's easy to make lists on the board or personalized "I Like__" books or collections.  Cut out magazine pictures of what they like and glue them to a page.  Bring in a variety of toys or snack foods (try fruit to be healthy) and have students say which they like.

More functions next time.  Until then, keep on talking - however you do it.


  1. We use comments so naturally, but it can be hard to think of them when you need to teach! Thanks for posting such a great way to get started!

  2. Great post. AAC is one of my weakest areas.

    1. I post a lot about AAC, so scroll back through posts if you;d like to pick up tips, free materials, etc. And feel free to ask questions any time.

  3. This is a great post and I totally agree. I think some of the reasons that ACC is not successful with students is that what has been chosen as the 'message' is not what they want to say.

    1. Absolutely. Every kids needs an aac system that allows him to generate messages; not use messages that have been pre-constructs for him. How do we know what he wants to say?

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  5. I think rejecting is extremely important, and too often ignored. In my experience, most of the time when I've dealt with challenging behavior in a child with CCN, and I've actually managed to figure out what the child was trying to communicate with that behavior, they've been rejecting something. And if you can't reject, it's so easy for someone to hurt you without even realizing it.

    1. Yes, rejecting and telling when something is wrong are two very big ones for me