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Communication Corner


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Tips for supporting those transitioning back to school:


1. Plan for a transition well before it occurs.

Talk about the differences with this school year well in advance. By communicating about these changes prior to them occurring, it allows extra time for processing and understanding. 


2. Make the transition visual with a schedule 

Schedules are a great visual tool to help make time and changes more tangible. Show that school will begin by placing a picture of the school on a calendar and crossing off the days until it arrives. If school is virtual, you can use a task schedule to help students stay focused and visually grasp each individual task. 


3.  Utilize social stories

Social stories can be used as a visual preview to new or unfamiliar experiences. Often, they also highlight potential feelings that may occur during these new experiences. There are a variety of great social stories available here.


4.  Read picture books

Picture books are a great tool to make abstract ideas more concrete through simple words and images. This resource has many free books about varying topics for all ages that can be viewed online or printed and read. 


5.  Role play and model

School may look very different this year than in previous years. If masks are required, model the use of a mask yourself or use their favorite stuffed animal. Act out some of the differences that may occur, allowing them to make sense of the changes in a comfortable environment through this role play.



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

Posted: August 18, 2020, 12:08 


How do I create a visual schedule?

Reminder:

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

 

Visual schedules need to be created fully based on

the person’s unique skills and needs.

 

How:

1. Decide on a format together

Select symbols that will make sense to the individual (something they experience and will recognize) and decide if you’re setting up a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule for them to utilize.

 

2. Less is more

In the beginning, don’t overwhelm the person with a full schedule, creating a symbol for every aspect of their day. Start with less and allow them to get used to using it before increasing the number of symbols used.

 

3.  Consider their transitions, preferences, and moments that happen often

When choosing the first few symbols to start with, think about the person’s biggest transitions throughout their day (example: leaving the house to go to their day program). Also, consider their favorite parts of their days and routines that occur most often (example: meal time). The more they interact with the schedule, the faster they’ll understand its purpose and function.

 

Additional tips:

  • Real pictures (instead of cartoons) may be easier for the person to understand.

  • If they’re uncomfortable interacting with the schedule, model how to use it.

  • Using it consistently is key!

The Special Populations Unit is hosting a webinar all about visual schedules during the month of July. Keep an eye out for this training!


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

Posted: June 10, 2020, 15:50




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

https://paautism.org/resource/coronavirus-resources/

  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.

https://www.assistiveware.com/learn-aac/3-practical-strategies-to-support-choice-control

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.

−Speakforyourself.org

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