Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I Can Do That! Can You?

Learning how to use an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device can take a lot of time and effort to figure out and use functionally in daily life.  Whether you have an iPad with apps like LAMP Words for Life or dedicated devices like the Accent 1000, learning the vocabulary shouldn't just be drill and practice.  It should be fun, age-appropriate, and motivating.  In therapy, we might read stories or play games, but sometimes it's fun to add in some of the person's talents as well as yours.  A little known fact about me is that I'm about 3/4 of a clown.  I can juggle.  I can make balloon animals.  I can ride a unicycle.  I can't dress like a clown.  Not yet.  I do have a clown nose.  Somehow my procrastination in graduate school turned into some fun talents.  I knew that learning how to juggle would pay off.  Anyways, I work with a young man who is very talented at spinning things.  He can spin basketballs.  He can spin books.  He can spin records.  Actually, he can spin just about anything.  He is quite talented.  He reminds me of one of those plate spinner people that keep multiple plates spinning at the same time on top of poles consecutively.  
Charlie Callas, an entertainer, is spinning plates for a crowd.

How does this equate to using AAC and speech therapy?  Well, it's fun and engaging to show others your talents.  People love to see amazing things.  People love to talk about amazing things.  My kids love watching Dude Perfect on YouTube.  These guys make videos about amazing feats.  We love talking about seeing amazing things.  I thought that it would be fun to talk about things that we can do (and can't do).  Speech therapy brain, turn on!  Bring on core vocabulary!  

Here's how to do this activity:
  • Make a list of things some people can do and some that people cannot do.  Whistle.  Use a hula hoop.  Tie your shoes.  Juggle balls.  Jump high.  Dance fast.  Do a push up.  Make a pizza.  Walk a dog.  Make your bed.  (Okay, some are amazing to parents.)
  • Make a slideshow using Google Slides or Powerpoint showing pictures of your activities.  I either project these onto a SMARTBoard or I print them out and use them as prompts.  
    girl using three hula hoops at once around her waist
  • Create a Smart Chart (cheat sheet for core vocabulary) for all of your words (both core vocabulary and fringe vocabulary).
    Table with words and Unity symbols that represent those words.  The words included are I, can, do, that along with their corresponding symbols.
  • Gather some real objects and materials.  Basketball, hula hoop, music, and etc.
  • Brainstorm some phrases that you might say during this activity.  I can do that.  I can't do that. Not me.  Can you do that?  Awesome!  Amazing!  Cool!  How do you do that? Can I try? You try.  Do you want to try?  Make comments.  Ask questions.  Say expressions.  Describe it.  Tell how you do it.
  • Practice some phrases.  I can do that.  I can't do that.  Can you do that?  How do you do that?  I want to do that.  Do you want to do that.
  • Have one person ask the question either using the actual activity/object or using a pronoun (that).  Can you dance fast?  Can you do that?  
  • Have fun!  That's always the key.  Have fun and laugh.  And, learn something new.
a man juggling three juggling clubs outside at a park

To learn more about AAC therapy ideas, visit www.aaclanguagelab.com.