Each week, the older students in our school read an adapted news article. When I started working with some of these teachers, I quickly realized that the article was not accessible for all students. Most of the teachers are still learning Classroom Suite and needed additional supports to be able to create materials every week for their students. In order to support these teachers, I created a template and how-to guide to make these switch accessible articles. (more…)
This week one of our students discovered the word “hide” on his Accent. The classroom teacher and I immediately hid. This led to several games of hide and seek. The game created numerous opportunities to model new phrases.
“where are you?”
“I see you”
“Where did you go?”
I have a feeling hide and seek is going to be very popular in that classroom for the next few days!
Have you heard about CoreScanner™! We LOVE it! It is a vocabulary system designed for switch scanning based on the Words for Life™ vocabulary. We have several students who had never used two switches to scan before trying the Accent 1000 or Accent 1400 with CoreScanner™. After an initial model with the system, 5 out of 6 students we tried it with were scanning to speak within the first 30 minute session using the Cornerstones vocabulary.
Check out the CoreScanner™ video that PRC created to demonstrate the system.
My favorite part about CoreScanner™ is that it allows users to gradually increase vocabulary while maintaining consistent motor plans. At the Cornerstones level, users select words from a field of 8 using linear scanning. At the Pathway level, users use block scanning to select words from 9 word blocks with a total of 84 locations. At the JAM and Blast levels, users have access to word families and the ability to add custom vocabulary.
So far, all of my students have used two switches at either the head or with their hands to access CoreScanner™. You should definitely check it out and consider for students who need switches to access AAC systems!
This year I was lucky enough to share some of my experiences at Closing the Gap. My partner, Nicole VanderZouwen, and I spoke about getting started with the AAC evaluation process. We spoke at length about what types of systems we consider and our experience with adapting systems based on access. Check out our presentation here!
One of the follow up questions we received was “do you have a specific form or process you use to get started?” We do! And we’ve been refining our process for the past year, though I still think we’re not all the way there yet! You can download our form here. We also created a document to the AT Referral Process for team members to reference.
When Lauren first suggested this series, I was a little hesitant. What if we didn’t have a story to post every week? But we work with some pretty amazing kids and it looks like this series is going to be a piece of cake to keep up!
When I first started working at my school, a lot of the students did not have individual AAC systems. And those who did often had a “PECS book.” I use this term loosely because it was in no way used as a picture exchange system. After I did my first teacher training on using core words to communicate, one of the teachers immediately went back to her classroom and printed a 50 cell core board to try with her students. She was a little skeptical but had a student with some behaviors that she was desperate to figure out a system for.
Well that first day, he saw the board and started using it to say simple one word utterances with little training and modeling. His speech therapist jumped in and pretty soon he was using some two and three word phrases too! He has a high tech device now and is really interested in learning to spell and read!
This week, while working with him and his aide I noticed that he was being given a picture of a CVC word and letter tiles of the exact 3 letters needed to spell a word. I asked his aide if we could challenge him a bit by giving him all of the letter tiles. He immediately spelt the first word “CAN” when given a picture of a can. Then he was given a picture of a bed. He picked up the letter tiles “SLE” and then began to yell. I quickly realized he was trying to spell “sleep” but only had one “E” tile! So I pulled up the keyboard on his Accent device.
He quickly typed in “SLEEP” then looked at me and his aide and smiled. He closed out the keyboard, opened the Icon Tutor, and typed “SLEEP” again. He memorized the icon sequence and then said “sleep” using a two-hit sequence (bed + action man). He smiled and laughed and then waited for the next picture card! Is that boy smart or what?! I think it’s safe to say that his aide won’t be underestimating him again! 🙂
Click here to find out more about the Icon Tutor on the Accent devices by PRC.
Merry Christmas! Last week while we were still in school, a parent asked her daughter’s SLP to unmask “Santa” and “presents” on her daughter’s Accent 1000. The SLP did and pulled her for a session so she could show her the new words. They read a quick story about Santa and the SLP asked the student if she would be leaving cookies and milk for Santa this year. The student then replied “pop” and laughed!
Her therapist was so excited to share the story because even though “pop” (soda) is in the drink section, they had previously only really used it to talk about popping bubbles. The student was cracking up over the idea of leaving “pop” for Santa instead of milk!
Later in the session, she also used “”pop” to ask to pop some bubbles! We’re really proud of this smart girl for understanding that some words have multiple meanings and using them appropriately!
A teacher recently shared the website GoNoodle.com with me, and I love it! The website is a collection of “brain break” videos to use in the classroom. Most of the videos are no more than 5 minutes long and lead students in dancing or stretching routines.
Schools also have the option of signing up for GoNoodle Plus which includes movement activities focused on teaching academic content. GoNoodle Plus costs $10 a month or $99 a year for a school.
The free version still gives you access to hundreds of movement videos.
Last year Lauren and I came back from Closing the Gap pretty fired up and ready to make some big changes at our school! When I first started there in April 2014, I immediately gave some trainings about core language and its important role in AAC. Our biggest challenge was trying to get people to stop re-recording BIGmacks and 8 Cell devices! But… it’s hard to make changes! And getting people on board with core (and AAC in general) was happening at a pretty slow rate! Shortly after we came back, Lauren found Kate Ahern’s picture version of the Communication Bill of Rights. We immediately posted it and started referring to it in trainings! We’re still making changes, slowly, but they’re happening! You can check out the original document from ASHA here!
It’s hard to pick a favorite since they are all important! But here are the few that I love to remind people about!
Here is the first post in our new series AAChronicles! We will be sharing a story about an AAC user we know every Friday.
We know a fantastic 21 year old who started a trial with Core Scanner a few weeks ago. When her mom came in to school for a Thanksgiving event, her daughter said “hello” to her!
For years she was limited to a single switch with re-recorded messages.
I am upset that it took this long to get her an appropriate communication system, but excited to see her finally share her voice.
Click here for More information about Core Scanner!
Music can be a great motivator, especially for students with visual impairments. Amanda and I have been creating simple music activities in Classroom Suite that provide students with the ability to choose what music they want to listen to while working on switch scanning. For some of these students, this is also an opportunity to find out what their musical preferences are. I have made a few “mixtapes” that include R&B, classical, pop, country, and rock. We quickly discovered each student’s preferences (Pharrell’s “Happy” wins hands down for almost everybody).
After showing one of these “mixtapes” to a parent, she was excited to attach switches to her daughter’s headboard for her to choose the classical music she wanted to listen to before bed.
Here is an example of a Taylor Swift “mixtape” made for one of our older students.
Recently, I made a template for teachers and therapists to make their own “mixtapes”. i thought I would share the template and directions on the blog as well.
Continue reading for the downloadable template and directions.