Sunday, 8 December 2013

Creating enabling communication environments

I found a really excellent (and readable) little article on the subject of 'creating enabling communication environments' for children.  You can read it here.

The authors suggested four aspects of a communication enabling environment:

1. The minimal speech approach (i.e. Don't use a long complex sentence where 1-2 words would suffice).  I've been doing this for four years now but it is surprisingly easy to forget!  It makes such a huge difference though - so much easier to process a couple of key words than a big sentence that sounds like 'blah blah blah'.

2. An explicit and consistent focus on creating frequent and high quality opportunities to communicate.  This is something we could do better at - it is sometimes easier to just anticipate needs and give the drink/ food/ toy etc. without requiring communication because you want to keep life running smoothly and avoid meltdowns due to frustration.

3. Using 'proximal communication' - which I think sounds very similar to Intensive Interaction!  It is described as using a range of generally non-verbal strategies to encourage children to initiate communication (such as rough and tumble play, imitation, burst-pause sequences).  Very much what we do in II.

4.  Access to a conventional communication system.  We have had such a strange trajectory with PECS - got off to an amazing fast start, plateaued for a very long time at stage 3, became limited to requests for food and drink.  We're doing quite well at the minute, using choice boards consistently for nursery rhymes, TV programmes and food/drink.  I must mention the lovely Sandra at ASD Bright Ideas who creates amazing colour laminated resources for us.

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