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Communication Corner

Using a visual schedule could be a game-changer!

What is a visual schedule?

It is a visual representation of scheduled tasks or activities in the order in which they’ll occur, using symbols, objects, pictures, and/or words.

Why use a visual schedule?

- Facilitates communication (both expressive and receptive)

- Supports the concept of sequencing

- Creates smoother transitions

- Fosters independence

- Reinforces the beginning and end of activities

- Individualized to meet the person’s needs

- Provides clear directions in a way that makes sense to the person

- Keeps individuals on task

What does a visual schedule look like?

It could look very differently depending on the needs of the individual you support. Visual schedules need to be created fully based on the person’s unique skills and needs. Tune in next month for some easy steps to create a visual schedule or email us to get started sooner!

For more information on the Communication Corner, please contact the Special Populations Unit at RA-ODPDeafServices@pa.gov

Posted: May 1, 2020, 11:25

April is World Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month


  Behavior IS communication 

All behavior is a form of communication and all behavior serves a purpose. This means that sometimes when people don’t have an effective way to express their needs, they may use behaviors to get what they want or need. Observe patterns and changes of a person to determine what it is they may be trying to communicate.

Especially in light of COVID-19, there may be a shift in people’s mannerisms or increase in repetitive behaviors that may indicate the person is experiencing heightened anxiety. A sudden stop of activities they typically enjoyed at home may indicate signs of sadness or depression.

Listen to their behaviors!

Help manage these changes for someone who thrives on routines and schedules by utilizing social stories or a visual schedule. For more information, check out


  For more information on the Communication Corner, please contact the Special Populations Unit at

Posted April 1, 2020 12:02

Listening is so much more than listening with just our ears! Listening requires our whole body.

Be Attentive, observe nonverbal bahaviors with your eyes. Avoid interrupting, provide wait time, then summarize or clarify with your mouth. Your hands and feet should be neutral and still. Think about what is being communicated (verbally & nonverbally). Your ears open to hear. Be attuned to and reflect feelings with your heart. Your body should be present, facing the expressor, signaling encouragement, and showing interest.

By listening with our whole body, we are giving those we support more opportunities to understand and express messages!

For more information on the Communication Corner, please contact the Special Populations Unit at RA-ODPDeafServices@pa.gov

Posted March 02, 2020 08:54

“The responsibility to be understood should not be placed with the person with the communication disability; it is a shared responsibility.”

Click the link below to read an article that describes simple tools and strategies to support every person to understand, compare and express their preferences as they make decisions.


Posted: January 2, 2020 14:16

By 18 months, babies have heard 4,380 hours of spoken language and we don’t expect them to be fluent speakers yet.

If Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) learners only see symbols modeled for communication twice weekly for 20-30 minutes, it will take 84 years for them to have the same exposure to aided language as an 18-month-old has to spoken language.


If you were teaching French to an individual, this would be done by speaking French. No one would dispute that hearing the new language is an essential prerequisite to learning it. It’s the same with AAC.

If we want the individuals we support to learn to express themselves with AAC, they need significant exposure to others using AAC. For more information please contact the Special Populations Unit at RA-ODPDeafServices@pa.gov

Posted: December 6, 2019 09:12