Saturday, September 29, 2018

What is it You're Missing? Beefing Up Language for Your Nonverbal Students!

Where do most AAC users get stuck?  At requesting.  Which is a shame, because with limited communication and language skills they miss out on so much interpersonal interaction, fun in participation, and just plain getting what they really need - which is rarely a handful of M&Ms.

So why is it we focus on basic requesting and forget about all the other things we do with language?  For some, it's a belief that this is all their students can do.  For others, it's not knowing how to move beyond "I want__."

What's wrong with this picture? Well, for one thing, we forget to presume competence.  And that doesn't mean that we presume each student can write the next Gettysburg Address, but it does mean we presume that each student, with appropriate support, can achieve more than their current skills might indicate.

And for another, we seem to forget everything we ever learned about language development when faced with students who can't speak, and who may have a whole bundle of related disorders that make communicating difficult.

But even the most physically disabled individuals can communicate.  Even the most language disordered or socially disordered or motorically challenged or........ you get the picture.

So, as you embark on this year's journey with your students who do not speak and who use pictures or text to communicate, please dredge up your memories of Brown's Stages of language development and get those kids moving on up!

In an attempt to offer resources for building language skills - including syntax and morphology - I am continuing my AAC Users Maximize Morphology series with More Possessives.  It’s in the works now and should be available shortly.

I am also continuing my newly developed themes for AAC (and for any students with limited expressive language skills).  FallWinter, and Summer are completed and in my TpT store.  I’m taking a quick break from seasonal words and working now on fire safety.

Let me also take this chance to remind you that last year I uploaded a free planning guide for AAC intervention. If you don’t already have it, you can download it here.

Another project for me is updating many of my AAC resources with clip art more suitable for older students.  I have just updated the 10 Weeks to 40 Core Words resource, which has been a big hit, with teen clip art.

So, where to begin this new school year with new - or not so new - AAC users?  I always say, “Start at the beginning. Use Aided Input.”  This holds true for brand new AAC users, as well as those who have been using AAC for a while.  As long as your AAC user does not have age appropriate language skills, you should continue to model more complex language.

Looking for a role play activity for your older AAC users?  How about a game of Jail Break?  This is the older version of my Barn Break activity from 10 Weeks to 40 Core Words.  You can download it here
Have fun, and have a great year of communicating!

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