5 Steps to Getting Started with Unconventional Communicators
We know that ALL people communicate. However, when someone has communication challenges, their signals may not always be obvious or conventional. Here is out Quick Step Guide to getting to know about someone's specific communication. Using these steps will help facilitate spontansous communiation and move communication along the continuum of conventioality and symbolism.
1. Observe: What are they doing that is potentially communicative? Look for clies in behaviors. Consider proximity, persistence, expressions, repetition, intensity, and anything else that might express a message. More ideas from the National Consortuim on Deaf-Blindness. Don't rule this out until you have looked at it.
2. Interpret: What does the behavior mean? Think about what would they 'say' if they did not have any communication challenges. It can be a positve message ('I want that', 'oh come on pretty please') or a negative message ('no not in a million years' or #%@* NO'). Check out this great information on communication development as it relates to interpretation of communication behaviors Novita.
3. Honor: Act quickly based on their intention. Acknowledge the message even if you can't comply with what they want. Try and comply if you would comply if they 'said' it in a more conventional way or they could convince you. If you can not comply because it is a non-negotiable issue, then acknowledge the message and support ('yeah, horrible we have to finish' or 'I know..rainagain, so terrible'). Learn more about the concept of Language Building Blocks and also be sure to see the section on Pre-Linguistic Mileu Teaching.
4. Respond: Label their intent with spoken words AND signs, pictures, and other AAC tools. Read more about language aided input- a teaching strategy for facilitating spontaneous language.
5. Repeat: The more you do, the faster learning will occur.Set up opportunities to use a similar communication message with the AAC tools (from #4) to move to more conventional communication.
Dr. Robin Parker/Dr. Carole Zangari/