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Monday, March 27, 2017

Core Words Are Everywhere

It is fantastic that use of core words in teaching and using AAC has gotten to be more commonplace and programming of predetermined phrases and sentences is taking a backseat.
That's not to say they don't have their place; they absolutely do.  In contexts where the message needs to be quick, or it's a message that is repeated/used often, it makes sense to program those buttons.

But, when we're talking about emergent communicators who are just beginning to learn language, 1-2 words is where we start, and in context use is crucial.  We learn new words by being taught the new word, hearing it in context, and trying it out - sometimes everywhere.
You know how little kids will repeat a new word even when it's not appropriate because they've just learned it and want to feel it out everywhere?
Well, that's what our AAC users need to do, too.  I cringe when I hear someone say a student is "just playing" with a device.  Yes, he or she is playing with their vocabulary set, trying out words, looking around for what words and where.

AAC users need many many many opportunities to use new words in order to "have" them and be comfortable with them.  I spend a lot of time helping teachers and parents to think about what words are important in any given activity or situation, and how to use and model key words, which are usually a set of core words - usually verbs, adjectives, pronouns - along with whatever fringe words are appropriate for the activity.
Me, I use 'bubbles' a LOT!  But recently I saw a girl in a high school and, if I had not been able to work with her in the context of the classroom lesson, I'd have painted her nails or done her hair.

But for as much as we try to infuse those core words into our practice with AAC users, they often need additional practice.
I use a combination of interactive books that illustrate a variety of contexts in which target words can be used, and real-life simulations with props and games.

If you are interested in seeing how I've constructed these, head on over to my TpT store and check out the AAC resources there.  I've recently updated my Core Words Books sets, and I've created a variety of materials for teaching core words in context and role-playing.
My Activities and Games to Learn Core Words has 2 sets; I used the words from's word lists in 6 month portions.
My 10 Weeks to 40 Core Words is loosely based on the DLM list from Karen Erickson; although I have changed 1 or 2 words based on my experiences with the AAC users I've supported.
Pick up some of my free informational handouts while you're there.

I hope my blog continues to provide you with ideas, tips, and information for working with your AAC users.
Until next time; keep on talking!

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