Do you have students using AAC devices? Are they using the devices for social interaction? Want some help? Come on in!
This year I have four students using some sort of AAC device for communication. That’s more than I’ve ever had before, and it’s likely I’ll have an additional one in the next few weeks.
YIKES! annnnd SO much FUN!
For those that may not know, AAC is an acronym for Augmentative, Alternative Communication. The word “augment” means to make larger. When used to discuss communication, it means something is added to the student’s life to increase his/her communication skills. This may be in the form of low tech picture exchange or in the form of high tech electronic Speech Generating Devices, or SGDs.
The cards I’m talking about today are the solution to a two-pronged problem I was having with a student who is in the Emergent Transitional phase of Social AAC use.
One: I needed my Special Education team to “buy-in” to the device and the student’s use of it. Two: I needed my student to begin to see the power of the device so that she would begin to use it more consistently in social situations outside the speech room.
First, I used speech session time to teach the sequences for some personally identifying information. Once the student was able to locate the answers to specific personal questions we practiced until she was 100% independent with 5 questions.
- What is your name?
- How old are you?
- What grade are you in?
- When is your birthday?
- What is your favorite color?
The first four questions were pre-programmed with complete sentences as the output when the button was activated. That is, when the button for age was pushed, the device said “I am six years old.” The fifth question was the challenge because the answer required more hits on the device to produce the answer.
Second, I introduced these little beauties – the AAC Cards. Click the picture to see it enlarged.
I told the student that I would secretly pass out these cards to teachers and helpers in the building. When they asked her a question from the card, if she answered it correctly, they would fill in a bubble on the card. When it was full, she could come to me and exchange the full card for a prize. It didn’t take long before I was pulling out the prize box!
Overall, this was a Win-Win-Win situation.
Win One: The student is very motivated to use her device now.
Win Two: The number of teachers and helpers who came to me, shocked to see the student so incredibly motivated AND using the device so successfully was thrilling.
Win Three: (really the best one for me personally): Other students in the building are now asking questions and communicating with the student.
I think these cards are a great way to show educational staff how to interact with the student using an AAC device. Many professionals think they are helping by doing things for the students, anticipating needs or assuming they understand what the child wants, when, in fact, they are hindering progress and stealing an opportunity for the student to be independent. Many teachers admitted that they simply didn’t know what to ask the student. They didn’t want to frustrate her by asking something too difficult for her to answer. The student has now begun to come to speech requesting specific sequences be taught so that she can communicate with peers and answer new questions.
I’m so incredibly motivated by the success these little cards have facilitated and I want to share them with you. Head over to the AGB Speech Therapy online store at TPT and pick up an editable set for FREE!
My next step will be to teach the sequences for the student to ask the same questions of her conversational partners. We practiced this past week and had a 5-7 minute conversation with the secretary in the front office 🙂
OH, and P.S. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Don’t forget the other my other Freebie for today, if you haven’t already grabbed a copy. St. Patrick’s Day Parade Vocabulary