Friday, January 6, 2012

Resolution 2:  Get the word out that USING visual supports can help improve behavior: 5 Visual Supports to Make it Easy   
(it's more about what WE do then compliance)

by Robin Parker
1. Choice Boards                                    
2. First- Then Board                               

5 AAC & Tech Things We Do on Fridays

by Robin Parker
We usually have a somewhat lighter schedule on Friday so these are the fun AAC and Tech things we try and do:
1.   Check with Moms with Apps for Fridays free and discounted apps. We also check with 
2.   Create or find a good visual support to USE over the weekend or the next week. We are trying out a new beta site called Symbly that allows you to create communication boards and other visual supports as well as copy or modify the Symbly community 'public' supports.   You do need an invitation to join the site, but when we requested one we got it very quickly.  For now this is a free site, but beta testing is scheduled to end January 28th and that may change.
3.   Add a book to your AAC library for yourself.  Consider 
Practically Speaking: Language: Literacy, and Academic Development for Students with AAC Needs, Edited by Gloria Soto & Carole Zangari- (full disclosure: proud promotion of my friend & collaborator)
4.   Add an Adapted book to your library through Tar Heel Reader
5. Have fun and incorporate visual supports into community activities!  We try and get some exercise after being inside most of the week.  South Florida is beautiful this time of year and we can even go outside and walk/run.  We have visual supports for route choices, exercise talk (it's so hard, etc.), and swimming.  Maybe soon we will learn to surf and be part of a surf camp that is run in Miami by the UM-NSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilies and the Miami Parks and Recs (next camp this Spring).  Our favorite thing about the week long camp (other than the smiles on everyones faces) is that  that Visual Supports are USED!  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

5 Visual Supports to Help with Behavior

5 Visual Supports to Help with Behavior              by Robin Parker
1. Choice Boards                                    
2. First- Then Board                               

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cooking More with PrAACtical AAC

We have been thinking about what we would love to do more of for 2012.  We seem to be thinking in 5's.   So in getting organized and goal focused for the year we will spend the next 5 days discussing 5 goals.  
Our first goal is More Cooking.  We love to cook with EVERYONE.  Cooking is an activity that everyone needs to do do for independence. Cooking can also be a leisure activity and it is often naturally motivating because of the end result (our personal favorite)- eating. 
1.  You can use any of the picture recipe directions that are already on common food products.  The picture supports may need to be enlarged at the beginning but the idea is to use the picture directions on many packaged foods. These natural AAC supports were pointed out to me several years ago by Dr. Bridget Taylor.
2.  Check out Your Special Chef which was created through a grant from Do Something
by a young woman who has a brother with Down Syndrome.  It is a great resource for visual recipes but so much more.  The recipes are organized with a shopping list, category of food, level of difficulty and lesson guides.  The visual supports are beautifully photographed and inspire me to make ALL of the recipes. This resource is only limited in that we wish there were more recipes.
3.  Widget has some wonderful visual recipes that use widget symbols to show recipes, ingredient and utensil lists and even has warnings within recipes if sharp tools are used. These free recipes are categorized for picnics or outside eating.
4. We also love using Symbolworld resources and there is a great new recipe section that has some great looking options.  It is really nice that there are different and new recipes on this site with many options to choose from.  It is truly a small world because Symbolworld is a free resource by Widget that helps ensure accessibility for EVERYONE. ALthough, cooking is our purpose for discussing Symbolworld here, there are many topics available. 
5. We also have a diigo list with ALL of the cooking resources that we use.  We add resources as we find them and even between each other it is a great way of  staying current. So please visit the AACCooking List for updated resources.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Keep watching these....

by Robin Parker

2012 is here and we have been reflecting on some videos (just a few) that will remain in our teaching tool box. These videos 'say' it   better than any words, lecture, or article.  They inspire active exploration into the topic as you think about AAC systems and inclusion at home and the community.   
About Core Words

About Employment 

And the program expands

For critics of technology

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/
Communication Greenhouse

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Something to Celebrate

by Carole Zangari

What better way to start a new year than by celebrating the achievement of something wonderful in the AAC world? 

Hats off to the growing popularity of Avaz, the first commercially available AAC device developed in India. Avaz was put through its paces at Vidya Sagar (formerly the Spastic Society of India). 

Earlier this year, the MIT Technology Review recognized one of its primary developers, Ajit Narayanan of Invention Labs, in its prestigious TR35 List, which applauds 35 innovators under 35 years of age. The device is already in use in 9 schools and centers around India. There is currently at least one study looking at its effectiveness with children who have significant communication difficulties.

Congratulations to the team at Invention Labs. We know that you will continue to change many lives and look forward to seeing Avaz in action in 2012.