At my first IEP meeting as an AT Specialist, a colleague asked me if I was going to be monitoring the student’s progress with her new Tobii Eye Gaze device with the Communication Matrix. I had never heard of it, but she insisted, so I agreed and quickly looked it up after the meeting! It has since become one of my favorite assessment tools for students with complex communication needs.
The Communication Matrix looks at communication from pre-intentional behaviors (i.e. crying because you are in pain) to language (i.e. phrases to sentences). For my students with limited or no verbal speech, it can sometimes be challenging to determine what and how they are communicating. This tool is fantastic because it helps our team pinpoint exactly which behaviors a child uses to communicate for different communicative functions. Let’s look at this sample student.
The graph shows us how the student consistently communicates (blue for “mastered”) and how the student is beginning to communicate (yellow for “emerging”). In addition, we can look at specific skills list to more clearly see how the student communicates for different language functions.
To protest, the student uses unconventional communication such as body movements, facial expressions, early sounds, and simple gestures and is emerging in his ability to use more conventional communication such as giving items back to you or shaking his head “no.”
To request attention, the student uses unconventional communication such as early sounds, facial expressions, visual cues, and simple gestures; however, he’s not yet using more conventional means to communicate for this language function.
How do I use the data from the assessment?
It’s a great tool for monitoring student progress when implementing a new AAC system. We update the matrix yearly and can see gains in communication that the student has made. Bonus – parents really enjoy seeing a colorful graph that clearly demonstrates the progress their child has made in communication. It’s also nice for determining areas to work on. It often helps us realize that our students need to work on MORE than requesting!
You can get started using the Communication Matrix as an assessment tool by following this link and signing up for a FREE account. http://www.communicationmatrix.org
Rowland, C. (2009). Communication Matrix. Retrieved [Oct 11, 2015] from www.communicationmatrix.org