1. Honour to Teach – If the student’s goal is to ask for preferred items and you’ve put an ipad on their choice board, it must be honoured at all times – outside, during instruction, during work time etc. Be prepared for this! If a child requests help using a Big Mack button, help them EVERYTIME – even if you’re sick of hearing your own voice 100x a day.
2. Set Limits Later– once the student has a handle on requesting and trusts that you honour their communication, slowly start to increase their flexibility. Perhaps an assembly isn’t the right time for ipad, or incorporate waiting for a teacher’s help as a skill.
3. Spread Out – When appropriate, expand and generalize communication skills to different locations for different purposes (i.e. a PECS binder in the classroom, a snack mat in the cafeteria).
I currently have 3 communication programs in my classroom:
1. Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
This student is working on Phase 3 of PECS, where she requests from an array and hands the PCS to staff in exchange for the preferred item. This binder is fixated to the student’s desk for easy access and consistency.
A Touch-to-Talk communication system prepares students for augmentative technology devices such as ipad’s Proloquo2Go or a Springboard. Gone are the days of tearing PCS from velcro (none needed!) when students can simply point to the pictures they want and and the device will speak for them. To prepare them, we need to start small, gradually adding pictures as students get more comfortable with the idea. In order for touch-to-talk to work, students must have the Fine Motor skills and precision to point to the pictures.
1. Complete a Reinforcement Inventory and gather the student’s preferred items.
2. Print/Laminate a BLANK PCS card- you are teaching the student how to exchange something for something, it doesn’t matter what it looks like.
3. Put the preferred item in front of the student.
4. When student grabs for item, immediately pull it away and replace with blank card.
5. Ask/Gesture to the student to give you the card (prompt if necessary).
6. After the student places the card in your hand, reinforce IMMEDIATELY.
7. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Then, repeat again. And again.