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Sunday, July 12, 2015

What's in a Word? Top 10 Communication Functions.

What is the purpose of the message?  When students use only one word utterances/pictures we don't always know.
Most often we rely upon the context in which the word was given to infer its meaning, in conjunction with the student's body language, facial expression, eye gaze, gestures or actions.
When beginning communicators use core words, we rely on the context to tell us what they mean.  

Core words are those multi-purpose words that we use and re-use in multiple contexts.  For example, "Go" can mean:   Let's go, I want to go, Go Away and leave me alone, Turn it on and make it go, Where did (X) go?

If we know the purpose, interpreting the message is much easier.  If we know, for example, the student wants to tell us something then "Go" might mean 'I am going somewhere.'
If we know the message is about something being wrong then "Go" might mean, "Go away and leave me alone."

In either case, the student needs to know what kind of a word "go" is, and where in the aac system to find those kinds of words.  "Go" is a word about doing something, and the doing something words are in (this) location.  Or, "Go away" is about something being wrong or how he is feeling, and those words are (here) in the aac system.

Whether we focus our attention first on the core word itself or on the purpose of the message, we still must explicitly teach where that word is and how and when to use it.

Next week, I'll talk about ways to increase communication functions in students with Complex Communication Needs (CCN), especially AAC users.
'til then, keep on talking.

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