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AAC for Early Language Learners Pre-Assessment

Page history last edited by Jeremy Brown 11 years, 9 months ago

View the video  and then answer the questions below--please post your responses in the Comments section.


Comment by Stacy Ellis: The students I work with all communicate in different manners.  Most of the kids I work with have some ability to use sign, to imitate spoken word and to use PCS to request.  A few of the students I work with use spoken language without any prompts.  Many of the students only communicate to get their needs and wants met across a variety of different situations and activities.  Few use communication to comment.





1.  Could this activity have been improved upon?

2.  What type of supports would you implement to increase the opportunities for communication?


View this next video clip and post a comment on how students in your classroom currently communicate.


Comments (20)

Jeremy Brown said

at 5:36 pm on Oct 30, 2008

Yes; most of the communication was done by the instructor..whereas it should have been by the student. Perhaps a communication system could have been in place for the student to communicate where they found the puzzle piece.

Jessica Hawkins said

at 6:07 pm on Nov 2, 2008

My students currently communicate verbally, through use of sign language, PECS, low-tech communication boards, Big Macks, and GoTalk devices. Each one is different!!

Jennifer King said

at 6:25 pm on Nov 2, 2008

The student in our program have skills ranging from verbal communications, sign users, low tech/PCS, and voice output uses. Often student utilize more then one of these systems.

Jeremy Brown said

at 6:26 pm on Nov 2, 2008

I am a classroom teacher with the Autism Program. I teach the intermediate class (grades 2nd - 5th) at Meadow Hall ES. This year I have 6 students who communicate using a variety of methods to communicate: AAC, PCS, adapted signs, emerging vocalizations, and simple verbal phrases. In terms of AAC, we have access to a range of devices Big Macs, Step-by-Step, Go Talks, TechTalks, IntelliKeys, Tablet PC with PRC emulation software, and Boardmaker Plus.

Also, outside of school I work as a family trainer and tutor with an autism waiver provider. The client whom I provide family training for is post-high school age and also uses a multimodal approach to communication. He uses a Chat PC (on which I helped setup environments for home and school), adapted sign, and emerging vocalizations.

Lisa Mihalich said

at 7:56 pm on Nov 2, 2008

My students are in grades 3-5 and are included in general education classroom environments (although one is served on an alternative curriculum). Each has a dynavox although some also use verbalizations or signs as a means of communication. In addition to using their dynas, my students use lo-tech options to have their immediate communication needs addressed, although my main focus is on having them work to use their devices more fluidly and proficiently.

Judy Wierenga said

at 8:43 pm on Nov 2, 2008

My students are in grades 1-4 in the LFI program and communicate in a variety of ways. One is learning to use a dynavox and also signs, gestures and writes single words to communicate. Another uses TechTalk, sign, gestures and PCS cards. The rest are functionally verbal.

Martha Wade said

at 9:35 am on Nov 3, 2008

My students are high school LFI and SCB students who demonstrate a wide range of oral communication skills from speaking in sentences, to non-verbal. Some of my students use signs paired with words, we use a variety of pictures and picture symbols. I have one nonverbal student that uses a VOCA better than any other student I've worked with in the past. It is a Springboard, additionally she has a Hip Talker which isn't being used to it's potential. I think we should be using everything available, rather than just picking one avenue to work on expression.

elizabeth_m_snead@... said

at 9:53 am on Nov 3, 2008

Most of the children I work with in Infants and Toddlers use signs or word approximations for communication. I try to incorporate strategies to increase choice making via pointing and vocalizations within my sessions.

Sara Kirkpatrick said

at 12:22 pm on Nov 3, 2008

I work with students in PEP classic, PEP INC, and PEP beginnings classes. The communication skills range from nonverbal to speaking in sentences. I try to include a variety of low tech communication boards and single switches during lessons. Some of the students with limited verbal skills are working on using communication boards, PECS, switches, and/or voice output devices for communication throughout the school day.

Lucinda Wagman said

at 6:04 pm on Nov 3, 2008

I work in Infants and Toddlers. We start at the very beginning of communication by looking at intent, referencing, eye gaze & shift, persistance, etc. Adding AAC can be challenging. All devices put an object between the communicator and the content of the message (I want that Teddy Bear - I have to touch this first???). We work with the parents. Interestingly, I have less resistance from parents when I use a device (usually very simple at this level) than I have if I try to use sign. I think sign is more immediate and "you always have your hands" but its not perfect for everyone.

Amy Schulenburg said

at 7:54 pm on Nov 3, 2008

As with what Liz and Lucinda said, we try to facilitate communication any way we can with our little ones (eye gaze, reaching, pointing, signing, some switches, word approximations, etc.). I think that part of the reason parents are resistant to using signs is that they see it as something that will replace spoken language, rather than augment it. I often use signing with little ones, even if I don't anticipate there being a language delay because kids can imitate motor movements at a younger age than they can imitate sounds or words. I also try to point out that we "talk" with our hands all the time through gestures (waving, pointing, clapping, etc.) which are all really just forms of signing.

Mark Custer said

at 8:54 pm on Nov 3, 2008

I teach in the autism program. I have an even split of verbal and non-verbal. We're focusing on improving speech quality for the verbal guys, though they do use AT in the community. The non-verbal guys use mid-tech devices. Our primary device is the GoTalk 20, which we use for basic manding, as well as ordering fast food and basic conversations about events. My non-verbal students also have pocket gotalks, which we are teaching them to use for basic social greetings. These devices are nice (and cheap), but I got spoiled at my last school, where most non-verbal students had dynamic screen SGDs that were infinitely more expandable, easy to work with, and less stigmatizing.

Meghan Grana said

at 10:54 pm on Nov 3, 2008

Currently, most of the population that I work with verbalizes functionally without the use of an AAC device. I'd like to learn more about the VOD currently being used with your students!

Tina Benfakir said

at 4:06 pm on Nov 4, 2008

Students in our classrooms (Autism Program) use a variety of diffent types of AAC. Some of them use sign language and/or basic books while some use dynamic devices. Most of the students use these to communicate their wants and needs and to participate in group activities (answering basic wh questions), however we are constanly trying to find ways to incorporate these systems into more of our group activities to enhance further participation and understanding of instruction. Many of our students also use AAC while on community outings.

Rosalyn Altman said

at 4:35 pm on Nov 4, 2008

Although all my students are verbal (LFI class 4/5 grades), many only are answering questions with one-two word responses. I am hoping to use VOD to encourage longer responses as well as encouraging less-able students to take part in discussions thereby increasing understanding of classroom discussion. I would also like to have the opportunity to program VOD that could be taken into the community which would enable people outside of our classroom more easily interact with my students.

Jeremy Brown said

at 5:11 pm on Nov 4, 2008

It seems like it is common across programs (Autism, CBI, LFI) that our students are using AAC in the community. Has anyone had any experiences where others in the community have used the AAC device to try and communicate with the student? Or, along those lines, has anyone had success in a mainstream setting with teaching general education peers to communicate with our students using AAC? During my first of year teaching I had several 3rd grade students show interest in learning how to use a student's device to communicate with him. We did several fun activities using the device and all students involved seemed to enjoy. Also, I know a good amount of work has been done by Carol Musselwhite on this topic. I will try to post her resources on the discussion board.

Cheryl Skrodzki said

at 5:53 pm on Nov 4, 2008

I assess children's (ages 2-11 to 5-0 ) speech/langauge skills as part of the initial identification process. The children present with a wide range of communicaition skills including those who have only some vocalizations all the way to those who possess adequate language skills but have impaired speech intelligiblity. I especailly enjoy explaining to parents that non-verbal skills are necessary for communiciation, i.e. the importance of joint attention, gaining the attention of the communiucative partner, understanding cause -effect, making choices.

Kristy D'Angelo said

at 11:21 am on Nov 5, 2008

I work with six students at Albert Einstein HS in the SCB program. I have students in 9th, 11th, and 12th grade. I have students with a range of communication skills. I have four verbal students (two can carry on good conversations), one who uses a Dynavox, and one that we are trying for her to start using step by steps. In my classroom I have access to GoTalk 20+, step by step, tech talk, Intellitools, and Bioardmaker. I do use a lot of PCS in my classroom along with gestures and some sign language. My students with the Dynavox I am trying to get her to initiate more rather then us telling her where to go on the pages in her device. It is starting to come around but I still have work to do with it.

Deborah Dorcus said

at 6:58 am on Nov 6, 2008

As I am reading above all the options for communication from eye gaze to gestures to voice to low and high tech devices and I think about my focus with the infants and toddlers with whom I work I realize even more basic than what has been listed here is how the child communicates with their bodies when they are able to move. I work with one little guy that has no vision, no speech, very little vocalizations, and very limited motor skills, yet when someone he knows and likes enters the room and speaks he will roll over to that person and put his feet up on them. He smiles with delight if they reach down touch his feet and start to talk to him. Other times, when I am pushing him to crawl or stand if he is tired or frustrated he will wiggle out of my hands and roll away. What communicative intent! Beyond crying, eye contact, and smiling, movement and touch for a child seem to be basic means of communication.

Sheila Saunders said

at 6:01 am on Nov 7, 2008

In my role I support primarliy new special education teachers in several programs to include SCB, LFI, and Autism. The range of AAC devices are vast based on the needs of individual students within any given classroom. I have observed the use of PCS, voice output devices, Boardmaker, Dynavox, sign language, gestures, and verbal sounds to actual language as ways to increase communication and engage students in their learning.

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