By: Chelsea Ezell M.A., CCC-SLP, Regional Consultant - North/East Texas
“Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd, buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks, I don’t care if we ever get back, ‘cause it’s root root root for the home team, if they don’t win it’s a shame, and it’s 1 – 2 – 3 strikes you’re out at the ole’ ball game.”
Everybody knows what sport I’m referring to. Baseball. This spring and summer my husband and I ventured into the world of baseball. We’ve always been into sports, but never really baseball. We began this journey by agreeing to (assistant) coach a t-ball team of four and five year olds. We fanned the flame by spending a whole weekend in front of the TV cheering, to victory, my husband’s alma mater in the conference baseball championship. Then, we took it to a whole new level by attending major league baseball games in two different cities.
Young or old, on TV or in person, the rules and language of the game are built on the same foundational components. “You are out.” “You are safe.” “Up at bat.” “It’s a home run!” “Top of the third.” “Bottom of the ninth.” “Catch it.” “Throw it.” “Hit it.” This is the same in the game of communication. The foundation for communication is built on core language. The vast majority of these frequently occurring phrases in baseball, come from a list of core words, that are easily accessible within all PRC devices and can be used for all sorts of activities, not just baseball.
Whether the AAC user is young or old, communicating over the phone/email/skype or in person, the foundation of language we should be teaching is core language. Core language is a foundation that can be used across all topics of conversation. In the game of baseball the word “it” can refer to a ball, bat, base, glove, pitch, cleat, score, hat, helmet, seat and so much more. Can you see the power in teaching this one core word “it”? Of course you can teach the other 10 (fringe) words, but these words occur with much less frequency, and we all know practice makes perfect. Add the word “what”, and now you have the ability to ask a question about something specific. Focusing teaching and practicing on high frequency words like “what” and “it” will provide so much more bang for your buck.
As part of the AAC Language Lab we have an activity where your child will learn the skill of directing actions using core words
Example goals using core language:
Babe Ruth will use core words “it”, “go”, and “what” to request, comment, or direct in 6/10 opportunities.
Babe Ruth will direct a communication partner in 6/10 opportunities.
Babe Ruth will initiate communication 4 times during a 50 minute session.
• Make learning language fun! Teaching new words needs to be done in a motivating activity that allows for natural consequences to occur. Identifying and labeling is an important part of therapy, but that is NOT communication
• Create opportunities that will allow a core word to be used. Asking yes/no and labeling questions, typically does not allow for a core word response.
• Model the word (yes that means you can touch the device) and then generalize the word into multiple environments. We can use the word “go” on the swing, playing YouTube, and with an annoying sibling. • Assume competence! Have fun with language learning and respond to whatever is said. • Mastery does not come over night or even over a couple of months. The 4 and 5 year olds we coached in T-ball were still dropping balls, striking out, and even running the wrong way after 3 days a week for 3 months. Many of our device users only get therapy 2 days a week and yet we expect mastery in just a few weeks.
Stories and Strategies fo...