Patti King-DeBaun presented on her work as a communication consultant using a Coaching model with a pilot classroom at the Standing Tall charter school in New York City. Over the past year, has brought this conductive education/motor-based program into the realm of supporting functional, augmented communication. Since its inception, the pilot program has more than doubled.
Using the Augmentative & Alternative Communication Profile (AACP; available from Linguisystems), all learners were initially ranked as Level 1 communicators. There are a number of assessment profiles with very similar names, be sure to look at this one by Tracy Kovach. At the start of this project, none of the students had mastered an independent access method; hand use was over-emphasized. They used Yes/No responses to address academics, symbol choice boards, and Step-By-Step communicators for home-school communication. Unfortunately, many of the students had their own SLP providing service (rather than one clinician overseeing the communication curriculum classroom- or school-wide), and individual therapy sessions often focused on training switch access through cause-and-effect tasks (rather than in communicative interaction).
Ms. King-DeBaun used a Coaching and Scripting model (read more HERE) to guide first the lead teacher and later the instructional aides in "teaching the language of teaching AAC." Using language transcription, navigational transcription, and prompting hierarchy, she emphasized the following:
- Having a solid Yes/No response is not a prerequisite to communication.
- If you went to a foreign country today, without any knowledge of the language, you would still communicate with gestures, pointing, showing, drawing pictures, pantomime, etc.
- You don't need to teach a symbol first before communication can happen.
- Instead, symbolic meaning of visual representations should be taught through the needs of the communication (what do you need to say right now? we'll help you say it - here is the symbol)
"Access should be easy, automatic and quick." Hand-use was none of these for the students in this program. "If you're teaching of access takes 6 months, you're in the wrong switch location."
Teacher scripts outlined (pg. 10): 1. what to say and do, 2. how to model use of the system, 3. what to say for a correct response, 4. what to say for an response inappropriate to the interaction.
1. Introduce the lesson, page, event / How to use the system, what to say and do
Lead Say: How do we feel when we smile? Let's see if you can tell your Partner how you feel.
Lead Say and Do: Okay, let's find the page that has our feelings and emotion words on it. First we go to the Start page (go to the start page) Next we need to find My Words (go through each of the choices and say them out loud on Start page until you get to I Know) I know is where we find our words. (Next go to Words1, read off each of the choices until you get to Emotions)
Lead Say and Do: (pull off and hold up Emotions) That's the one I want. On this page there are some words that might tell us how you feel when you smile.
2. Responding to the student / What do you do when the student makes a selection. What do you say?
(read all of the choices before asking student to select so that they know what they can say before making a choice)
You say: Happy. That's right, Ashley, you can feel happy when you smile.
What do you do if the student does not say what you expect?
You say: Sad? That's silly. Let's look at my face, do I look sad? (smile big) Hmmm, let's look and see if we can find another choice. (Point to and show several different appropriate choices)
You say: Look at my smile. (smile big) What do you think? (point to the choices)
If still struggling: (Model by selecting and showing the appropriate choice)...
Curriculum consisted of:
- 20 minutes of direct communication instruction
- 20 minutes of literacy instruction
- 20 minutes of linguistic instruction
Communication Instruction: All students were started on an identical, light-tech system consisting of a Dynamic Communication Book (self-designed, and now commercially available, $250) based on the pragmatic functions of communication and using partner-assisted scanning.
Literacy Instruction: Targets selected from David Beukleman's language sampling and high frequency words (similar to 1st and 2nd grade Dolch word lists) as well as sound-letter association and numeral comprehension. Balanced Literacy (Karen Ericson) is used as a model. Linguisystems Quick-Play Folder Games are another source of material.
Ms. King-DeBaun's blog: www.teachmeaac.blogspot.com
Ms. King-DeBaun's website: www.adaptedstories.com