Saturday, April 27, 2013

Augmentative Communication Systems

·      Key questions should be considered when selecting educational applications to meet students goals and objectives
o   What is the intended outcome of the use of the educational application?
o   Is the educational application likely to fulfill its stated purpose?
o   Can the educational applications be used as an alternative to traditional classroom activities to enhance student participation?

·      Kinds of educational applications that can be used to address automaticity/math fluency
o    FASTT Math (Fluency and automaticity through Systematic Teacher with Technology) a math intervention program that helps students acquire math fact fluency
o   Timez Attack (Big Brainz) focuses on multiplication facts, teaching the 2 to 12 times table.
o   ArithmAttack is an online game that students can practice basic math skills.
o   Arcademic Skill Builder that is games designed to help develop automaticity in math skills.

·      Kinds of technology tools can be used to address visual-spatial or motor control difficulties
o   MathPad (Cambium Learning) A talking math worksheet program
o   Virtual Pencil is an educational application designed for students who are pencil impaired.
o   Number Navigator (Oats Progect) Serves as a simple math processor.
o   Scientific Notebook (MacKichan Software) A high-end application that is designed to do more than allow users to write equations on the computer but to solve equations.

·      Kinds of educational applications can be used to teach math concepts, math skills, and problem solving
o   Math Playground- provides wealth of recourses to support learning math concepts.
o   Conceptua Math-focuses on fractions and offers a variety of tools for teachers to use to enhance their whole class instruction.
o   Destination Math-targets the development of skills in math reasoning, conceptual understanding, and problem solving for students in grades K-12.

·      Kinds of low-tech and mid-tech adaptations can assist students with disabilities in completing math assignments
o   Manipulatives
o   Fraction rubber stamps
o   Number lines
o   Multiplication tables
o   Rulers
o   Plastic Coins

·      Strategies teachers can use to overcome “learned helplessness”
o   Build a daily expectation of communication through specific activities such as choosing the activity during recess, picking a book to read, or identifying where to eat lunch
o   Construct a brief daily report to parents that is communicated by the student
o   Allow natural consequences to occur and provide avenues for repair.
o   Provide for choice making whenever possible that requires the student to use his or her augmentative communication system.
o   Provide powerful phrases on the device for students to reject or protest something.

·      Integrating augmentative communication into the IEP
o   Important that student’s use of system is integrated within and across the school day, including instructional and noninstructional periods.
o   Once a system is determined the components of the system should be outlined in the IEP.
o   IEP should also include the use of the augmentative communication system within the students educational program to ensure that fundamental opportunities are provided for the student to practice communicational skills.
o   IEP must clearly state student’s communication needs.
o   List of augmentative communication services to be provide by related service personnel and identification of the party responsible for device maintenance and operations.

·      Importance in supporting the use of augmentative communication systems at home and in the community
o   Reinforces the communication skills learned in school and helps generalize them to other settings.
o   Critical to success of augmentative communication.
o   Both environments reflect different and varied communication demands, and coordinated efforts can significantly increase the likelihood of effective communication.
o   Using augmentative communication systems in the community make it easier for the individual to communicate with unfamiliar people.

·      Designing a students augmentative communication system to meet the communication demands of home and the community
o   Appropriate vocabulary needs to be added to the augmentative communication system.
o   Use of board maker can help to create and collaborate different materials for every activity and lesson to allow the student to communicate with those individuals around them.
o   Clear organization is mandatory for easy access and navigation.
o   Progress must be monitored to make sure the child is progressing appropriately.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Expressive Communication

Expressive Language is the communication by individuals, also commonly referred to as “talking”. An expressive language disorder is most often seen in children. Expressive language disorder is a communication disorder where difficulties with verbal and written expression are present. This disorder is characterized by an ability to use expressive spoken language that is significantly below the average child. Problems and symptoms within the disorder can include:
  • Lacks ability to express thoughts, needs, or wants at same level as peers
  • Trouble producing complex sentences
  • Difficulty remembering words
  • Abnormalities in articulation
  • Difficulties expressing through speech
  • Child has less extensive vocabulary than peers

Therapy for expressive language disorder is provided primarily through speech therapy. Children can work one-on-one with a speech therapist on a regular schedule to practice and improve speech ad communication skills. Additionally the therapists, parents, teachers, and other individuals involved with working with the child will work to incorporate spoken language that the child needs to improve upon into everyday activities and play.

Break Cards:
Children with autism often struggle with appropriately communication their wants and needs. By using a “break card”, autistic children and other individuals with communication disorders can have a way to express their need for a break during an activity to help calm them when they are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed.

Choice Cards:
Choice cards are visual aids to assist children either with autism or who are non-verbal to help communicate what they want or need to do. Usually students are shown a small variety of cards with pictures on them of what choices they have for a given activity they are getting ready to do. For example if the child is getting ready to go on the playground they may have the following choice cards: (slide, swing, sandbox, tricycles) Depending on the child more or less choice will be provide and using the cards the child can select the activity in which they want to participate in without having to use oral language.

Receptive Communication

Receptive Language is the facility to listen and comprehend communication. Children and individuals with a receptive language disorder struggle to process language, written or spoken. A receptive language disorder may result from a traumatic brain injury, stroke, however most causes are still unknown. While children may suffer from a receptive language disorder this does not denote low intelligence, most children have average to above-average intelligence. Symptoms of a receptive language disorder may cause problems with communication, academic activities, and social interactions but can also include:
  • ·      Trouble following directions
  • ·      Confusion when faced with complicated or long sentences
  • ·      Difficulty with abstract language
  • ·      Difficulty responding to questions
  • ·      Requires extra time to process information
  • ·      Trouble differentiating between sounds

Therapy is provided to help improve the child’s ability to follow directions and increase their listening comprehension skills. Additionally support can be given to help differentiate similar sounds, sentence structure, and word recovery. Furthermore, scenarios are set up to help build vocabulary development and language in social situations. 

Completed Visual Daily Schedule:
Many teachers, whether they have students with special needs or not, are turning to visual aids in their daily schedule to help their visual learners. By attaching a picture to each part of the daily schedule allows a student who may not be able to read to follow the schedule, know where they are in their day and what is to follow. This is a GREAT tool to help students feel independent in an area where they may struggle the must.
 “No” Symbol:
By using the “NO” symbol students can see what is not allowed or ok in different environments without needing to read. The most common symbol for this is a red circle with a diagonal red line through the circle. Different examples of this and where they would be found include:
1.     “NO PEANUTS”                      (Peanut Free School/Lunchroom/Classroom)
2.     “NO CAMERAS/PHOTOS”    (Museum)
3.     “NO FOOD”                             (Museum, Clothing Stores)
4.     “NO SMOKING”                     (Airplane, Shops, Hospitals)
5.     “NO PETS/ANIMALS”           (Restaurants, Grocery Store)
6.  “NO PARKING”                       (Bus lane, Fire Lane, Loading Zone)

Specific Activity/ Mini Schedule:
Mini schedules are a type of visual aid used to help break down and sequence routines into more manageable steps. They are most often found in the location in which they are used for convenience.

            Example 1: Bedtime Routine

            Example 2: Morning Routine

Sequential Step Direction:

           Washing Hands:

           Brushing Teeth:

           Getting Dressed:

Change Symbol: 

Activity Termination Signals: