"The students who…grow the most in their communication skills and become the most spontaneous are the students who…spend copious amounts of time exploring their (AAC) devices..."
-Kristen Ponce, Speech/Language Pathologist, AAC to the Core
Wonder Boy paced, his AAC device, ie "talker," straps draped across his body shoulder to hip, like a purse. He sat, placed the machine on his knees and tapped buttons. "Blanket," the talker sang.
"I want blanket," said Wonder Boy. He proffered the device, as if to underscore his request.
It was the first time he'd - independently, unprompted, totally on his own - generated purposeful communication using his machine.
Angels sang as the Heavens rejoiced!
"…the ultimate goal for all AAC users is SNUG-Spontaneous Novel Utterance Generation. It means the ability to put words together independently to express your own thoughts and ideas…"
-Kristen Ponce, ibid.
In the beginning, we used sign language to facilitate communication: jump, help, please, toilet, more. We used a Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS); a book of photo images with text.
Then came the AAC Device, ie, Wonder Boy's "words" or "talker."
At school, educators utilize the AAC device and facets of the software to facilitate guided instruction and offer solutions. With help, students create sentences, identify moods, request objects, learn.
At home? Wonder Boy's device sat on a counter, coffee table or beside his bed. Within reach and available, but silent and inert.
We attended a technology class where the many ways devices facilitate communication were outlined. Could we do more, we wondered?
We encouraged Wonder Boy to play with his talker. We showed him how to find words to replace outbursts, identify emotion, express needs and wants. We hung it over his shoulder when he left the house.
When it snowed, we demonstrated how to locate the word on his machine. "Snow," the device said.
Wonder Boy examined the picture, reviewed the text. He placed a wet finger on his cheek. "Snow," he said.
He felt the air, touched the freezing particles. "Cold," sang the machine.
"Cold," said Wonder Boy.
Initially, Wonder Boy didn't like having his talker strapped to his body. He was inconvenienced by the necessity to pause for words when there are still places in his world where independent effort is not required.
Today, at his primary residence, Wonder Boy's talker is with him everywhere he goes. At the dinner table, he pages through images, examines text. He listens to words and watches video models. At playtime, the device is beside him on the floor. It's close when he flips on the trampoline and within reach when he uses the bathroom.
His device is with him during therapy.
Almost immediately, Wonder Boy's daily school word usage increased by 75 words/day.
And there's this:
And there's this:
Wonder Boy has "…increase(d) his percentages on both reading accuracy and comprehension this quarter…the continued use of his AAC device at home has helped increase his knowledge base and use of pictures to support his understanding of the text…"
-Wonder Boy's report card, January 2018
Angels sing as the Heavens rejoice!
|meanwhile...outside the bathroom door|