If you are worried about whether or not a communication device will be worth the money since you are planning on your child becoming verbal soon, fear not, it is still totally worth it.
Our son used his “talker” aka communication device* for speaking for over a year. After that he used it to help continue language acquisition, and as needed for speech and fluency correction. When he really didn’t need it any more I noticed that he was much more receptive to learning school subjects if we reinforced the concept on the talker. He could explore and become more independent holding ownership over the concept using his talker. *We use Speak for Yourself on a mini iPad.
This is not an exhaustive list. I will give a list of ideas in another post. This is just some of the activities we have used at home.
I have the talker ready and show him where numbers and mathematical symbols are, then take objects and have him find the number on the talker. I think this would be best if we had domino number pics, but we don’t and he doesn’t seem to mind. Then go into the math symbols and ask him to pick what he is going to do. Add more or take away and just keep going from there.
Or we have had 2 Star Wars battle ships with storm troopers and I tell him he has to break the storm troopers up into two groups and to put in his talker how many are going in the first ship, then put them there, and how many are going in the second and how many are total and keep making different combinations this way. I count him pushing on his talker as writing the number down. Not only is it number recognition but it’s word recognition as well. Research (more here and here, )has shown that people learn more efficiently when what they are learning is paired with a visual aid. Our AAC device is the ultimate visual aid with immediate auditory feedback and reinforcement.
We also use it to help as a visual aid with skip counting and money counting because we have a page (under the) set up for that.
This is really just a natural thing that comes with using the talker. He is pushing a picture, but also seeing the word and hearing it. The more times he sees that written word as the word he intended to say with the picture, the more words he learns.
You could have a page of sight words, blends or digraphs and ask him to look at a word and then in his talker either match it (I would open the page for them first), or identify which blend is in that word by finding it on the talker (again…already have the page open to make it easier).
We also use this for sentence building.
Spelling (this is how we utilize his talker most in school)
At the Dino (natural history) museum I have him spell the word “sauropod” in his search button. When it didn’t come up I had him program it in by typing the word. That is twice he had to copy and remember letters in order to spell a word.
When he is searching for a word he has to type it so I give him two to four written words a week and ask him to see if they are in his talker. If not I try to have him remember what the word looked like or how it sounded and re-type it while we programmed it in. When he is done typing I have him push “speak word” (sometimes this works sometimes not…English is tricky for his talker sometimes) if it sounds right he will identify that. If it sounds wrong he can double check his spelling in a dictionary or with me. Then I can fix it so it sounds spoken correctly too.
Even if in the search feature he only typed 3 letters then scrolls to find the word I’m ok with that at first. He is seeing the word and hearing it as what he intended to spell. Most of the time though he likes typing the whole word to be sure.
We have a planet, birds, rocks/minerals, plants, dinosaur, etc pages. We go to museums or out in nature and I ask him to find on his talker what he sees (we already went to museums before and he helped me program everything. It took a long time, but worth it in the end). For example, he sees his “superman rock” at the natural history museum. I ask him what kind of rock it is. If he doesn’t know he will find the picture we already took of it, push it, and hear “calcite” to help solidify that memory in a multi sensory way (visual and auditory).
Eventually we will add the periodic table with a picture of what is makes, written in short form, and spoken in long form and then can use the talker to help us with quizzes.
The Homeschooling SLP-September 2017 www.homeeducatingapraxia.com