Please work through the topics below in the order they are provided, unless you feel confident that you know the subject.
Select individual arrows beside the topic heading or 'Open all'. This action will show one long page of content. The arrows and titles work like a toggle to open and close sections. When you have finished a topic you may find it easier if you close that section before you move onto the next one.
Much more detailed information will be provided in Level 2 and 3, this is just an introduction to the subject.
Getting Started with AAC
As you watch this video think about the number of ways Maya finds her Voice?
When you ask a very young child a question and they are just learning to talk they may reply with a gesture, point or make an attempt to say a word. Hopefully you will give them support and enhance what they have said, possibly by gently saying
the word or phrase in the correct way or elaborating on what has been said. You encourage their communication skills and enhance their language - the same is true for symbol users.
If a structured approach is needed
for a few symbols being used in an interactive setting it might help to try the Picture Exchange Communication System, where symbols can be used to request an item. Training is
provided to follow a set pattern of symbol use that allows a child to learn to make choices and communicate needs when in the past they have found it hard to initiate communication. It has been found to help those children who have been diagnosed
on the autistic spectrum. However, it can be restrictive if the symbols are not to hand and it is not possible to provide a symbol immediately when a new idea comes to mind.
Research has shown that when young chidren
are working with pictures they may find Visual Scene Displays (VSDs) easier to use. These can be a photograph or picture on a tablet that has
items for a conversation. It may be any scene such as a familiar room with favourite toys or the kitchen with food and drink, the car or outdoors with animals. You can see how hotspots can be used for text in the example below but usually
you would record sounds and speech, labelling items or asking questions to encourage interaction.
Activity - Getting started with VSD and Interaction
Try taking a photograph and pick out points that could initiate a conversation - How many open ended questions can you ask and how would you encourage your young AAC user to interact?
Did you find that the conversation tended to be initiated by you as a communication partner and the vocabulary was limited to what was available under your potential hotspots. Maybe you needed a collection of symbols to support the topic?
So in order to expand vocabulary and generate more language it is time to move on to a grid format with various layouts that allow for a more flexible approach to vocabulary building. This does not mean topics are lost, but those frequently used words are easier to reach. These are often called Core Boards.
Introduction to Core Vocabulary Communication Boards
It is important that multiple AAC systems are used in line with
multimodal forms of communication or total communication. An electronic aid may be impossible to use in the bath and single communication board or small set of cards, such as a keyring of important symbols, may be more useful on occasions.
Different types of communication boards can be developed for a range of tasks, settings and be personalised to suit the user, the linguistic structures of a language as well as the topics being discussed.
Remember we want the symbols chosen to enable AAC users to not only understand language but to also: