Let’s Talk AAC Blog: Stories and Strategies for Success

PRC consultants and other AAC Professionals share stories of strategies and success.

Teach One Thing

Posted July 18, 2018 in Stories and Strategies for Success

By Penny Jameson, Liberator Australia

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When taking on the task of teaching language on a communication device, we are often faced with challenges. Some of them include length of time between therapy sessions, hectic classrooms, busy family life, and just not knowing where to start. What if teaching one thing could result in a person largely teaching themselves?

I recently met with a family who have inspired me by their approach, and the resulting success.

While trying to motivate their son to engage with his communication device, the family began by expanding on an activity their son already knew. They had a pile of flashcards - A is for Apple, B is for Ball…. Instead of using the game in their usual way, they decided to search for the word using Word Finder in their device. Seeing the icon sequence displayed, and then finding and speaking the word added another dimension altogether. The real “game changer” happened when the family decided to show their son how to use the Word Finder tool himself. With new found independence, he typed in the corresponding letter to those on the cards.

With this skill he has been able to independently use Word Finder to search for all manner of words, expanding beyond the Flashcards, to typing in words from favourite books, as well as sight words from school.

One thing often leads to another. Guess what? Ben is now using the Word Finder tool as a means of testing his own spelling. His mum will call out a word to spell, and he has figured out that if he spells it wrong, no icon sequence will appear. His familiarity with finding and using language and his ability to spell are taking of at a rate of knots and the beauty of it is he is highly motivated and largely driving the process. These skills support literacy development, word recognition, ability to locate icon sequences, and reading.

The take home lesson for me is that I don’t have to teach everything. By teaching just one thing to our AAC users - how to use Word Finder - learning can happen anytime, not only when I set out to teach in a formal setting. Give it a go!

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