is a powerful tool. Helping a student access functional communication is
extremely rewarding. Assistive technology can help students with disabilities
increase independence as well as access their education. For some teachers and
SLPs, working with non-verbal students or students with limited verbal
abilities can often be challenging and at times, overwhelming.
the appropriate aided communication system or device is important in promoting
daily use and implementation from the user and communication partners involved.
There are numerous levels of technology from low to high tech to consider when
selecting a mode of communication. One option to consider when introducing
functional communication to new learners, is a single message speech generating
device such as the BigMack.
This will help demonstrate the power of communication to the user.
know what you're thinking. If I was only able to communicate a single message
all day or all week, I might get a little frustrated; however, if you unlock
this power for a non-verbal student, the reward is abundant and their world
will be changed forever. So, how do you "supersize" or get the most out
of your target words/phrases? When selecting a message, there are a few
questions that are important to consider.
you've consider these three factors, you are ready to select your target
words/phrases. Here are my top five words/phrases to target when introducing a
single message button.
Greetings/Social Phrases/Farewells (i.e., "Good morning,"
"Hello," "How are you doing today?")
words/phrases are verbally reinforced immediately and can be targeted
frequently throughout the student's day. Be creative with the locations
that you teach and target these words/phrases. Greet the librarian, office staff, and nurse. Having the student help out at the
crosswalk is another great location that will provide multiple opportunities
word can be targeted during multiple activities throughout the student's day
and easily carried over to other settings.
You can introduce the target word while doing a puzzle and have the
student request, "more" pieces to complete the puzzle. Addressing
this target word while playing with play-doh also provides multiple opportunities and
"Finished" or "All done"
students love this one, especially is it's during a non-preferred task. This
target allows the student to feel in control and can quickly teach the power of
"I need help"
initially teaching this target phrase, sabotaging the activity works very well.
Intentionally giving the student a "locked" iPad or
placing desired toys in a closed container will prompt them to request
Repetitive story line or verse in a song
reading a repetitive story or singing a song, allow the student to participate
by pressing the button for the repetitive line. One of my students loves,
"The Wheels on the Bus." I programed the button to say, "all
through the town," so that he is able to participate while the group is
singing the song. The "Pete the Cat" series and "There Was an
Old Lady" series are great books for repetitive lines.
in mind, with any word or phrase that you select, modeling and repetition will
be extremely important in the success of the student using any form of aided
communication. Hope this post helps the task of introducing and targeting functional communication less overwhelming for you and more powerful for your student.