Sunday, 16 June 2013

Social Scripting for AAC Device Users

One of the most challenging parts of creating effective and meaningful conversation for AAC users is that interactions can get "stuck".  Part of the reason that happens is because the AAC device user has not developed what Caroline Musselwhite calls "an ear for conversation". To remedy this, she suggests developing social scripts for students.  Understanding that conversations have a pattern of interaction between two or more participants is key to developing scripts for AAC users (see the chart below).  From there, you can sit down and develop a conversation script with the communicator to use to interact with one or more people, providing ample communication opportunities. This will allow the AAC user to discover the natural pattern of turn taking and statements that occur in conversation. When you sit down to develop the script, you can provide examples of statements that the communicator would like to use and program it into the device the communicator is using. For some examples of social scripts, check out Musslewhite's website at

Anatomy of a Conversation

From Musselwhite's Can We Chat: Social Scripts for AAC Users Professional Development DVD
Step One
Attention Getter (Greeting)
“Hey! What’s up?”
Step Two
Conversation Starter (Conversation initiator)
“Guess what?”
Step Three
Maintainers, Holders
(Statements that keep the conversation rolling smoothly)
“It was so embarrassing”
"Can you believe it?"

Interjections (Statements in response to information shared by the communication partner in response to the conversation topic)
“Cool!” “Yikes!” “Really?”
Step Four
“Great talking to you!” “See you soon” “Catch you later”

Kelly Fonner- Open Access Resource Centre Conference

On May 15, I attended a conference at the Viscount Gort hosted by the Open Access Resource Centre.  Kelly Fonner, invited by OARC, presented on improving communication for students who use Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC).  Fonner, a self-employed consultant and assistive technoloy expert with over 30 years of experience working with individuals with disabilities has worked in the field from the ground up, starting her journey as an educational assistant and moving upwards from there. Fonner presented all the components of designing and implementing an effective AAC program for working with individuals with a communication disability. She suggested an intervention framework based on 'lessons learned'. Considering purposes for communication, examining the behaviour of the communication partner, setting up the environment to encourage communication, providing the right level of support as communication partner, and creating a plan to encourage communication are all key to having the student become more fluent in AAC.  She suggests working on a Participation Plan in Classroom Settings Worksheet with resource teachers, classroom teachers, and EAs to plan what communication will look like in the classroom setting.  From there, SST members can use a Communication Activity Planning Worksheet to plan for a greater number of communication opportunities for the student.  Fonner's systematic approach to AAC addresses all the considerations of fostering communication. If any of my ISD colleagues are interested in viewing these materials, I can certainly visit you in the fall to develop a plan!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Resources for Sensory Processing Disorder

I am having a heyday on Twitter this morning.  I've recently started following a few really amazing people who have posted some great information and links to resources that are really quite applicable for the special education teacher.  If you are working with a student who has sensory processing disorder, I would highly recommend checking out the Sensory Street website.  There is a whole host of great resources, checklists, pdf posters, and other practical suggestions for working with students with sensory processing disorder.

Discovering Primary Sources

If you teach senior years history, it might be worthwhile for you to check out this site.  It allows you to create online activities that students can work on to discover, compare, interact with, and make connections using primary sources.  I haven't looked into this fully, but found a link to it on Twitter.  It could be a great way to engage students while instructing them on the importance of first-hand historical perspectives.  Peruse Docs Teach to learn more about this interactive opportunity. If you'd like a little more background information about how this site works and some other alternatives for primary source instructional opportunities, please visit this webpage.