Let’s Talk AAC Blog: Making AAC Work

Jane Odom M. Ed, Director of Implementation Resources at PRC, offers tips and suggestions for implementing AAC.

Practising Functional Language

Posted June 27, 2018 in Making AAC Work

Chocolate ice-cream please! Using simple scripts to practise functional language

Crikey! It is HOT HOT HOT at the moment! I don’t know about you, but this sweltering heat has got me feeling all summery and thinking about the summer holidays ahead.

With about a month to go until the school holidays are upon us it can be a nice time to start thinking about some summer goals for those people you support who use AAC in schools or college.

Often when I support someone using AAC I like to set them a ‘challenge’ for them to work on until I see them again. I like to go for very functional targets which often carry a huge reward and help to develop skills such as independent living and social interaction – or even just work towards a personal goal someone may have at that moment in time which is relative to an activity they enjoy or event they are attending. This can include things such as:

Independent Living skills

  • Ordering lunch at school
  • Ordering food/drink in a favourite café, restaurant or bar
  • Asking for assistance when shopping
  • Choosing your own ice-cream from the ice-cream van

Social interaction

  • Saying hello to a friend
  • Sharing your news about your summer holiday
  • Asking someone to play with you
  • Asking that girl/boy you fancy to dance with you at the local disco

Personal Goals

  • Saying Happy Birthday to someone special
  • Giving a small speech at a wedding/birthday party
  • Accepting an award

Now for all these situations you can of course spend hours preparing a specific vocabulary page for each activity, with every possible sentence you may need programmed in. But as I frequently reiterate LIFE IS TOO SHORT! Instead work out how to use the language you already have in your vocabulary flexibly in different situations.

One brilliant way to do this is use social scripts. These pre-written scripts can help a person rehearse what they may wish to say and as such practise the symbol combinations needed, practise repairing if things don’t go to plan and practise different scenarios they may encounter.

Initially they may be practised in a highly structured ‘errorless’ setting such as therapy session or with a parent or close friend/relative/carer – in this situation there is no right and wrong and any errors are supported by the other person. However, as confidence develops you can begin to ‘practise’ what to do when things don’t go to plan, or if the person who uses AAC makes a mistake. In this sense you can build a little resilience in a still safe setting – before trying skills out in the real world.

You can also of course carry the scripts with you the first few times you go out there and try your new skills – they can be a great crib-sheet to remind us what to say or do.

College Disco!

Saying hello

Going to the pub

Mums birthday

Ice cream Van

These very simple, sample scripts were developed using the free emulation software from Liberator Ltd – both of which have a brilliant function for capturing icon sequences, needed to form sentences, which you can then simply copy into a Word or publisher document as you need. So, if you have a client using Unity/LAMP WFL on an Accent device or have a client using a NovaChat/ChatFusion or LR7 this amazing free resource tool is just a click away!!! http://www.liberatorsupport.com/Pages/pc-emulation.html

There are some great resources online to help you think of further ideas for doing this – the sky really is your limit!

Now go enjoy the sun and get choosing your ice-cream.