5 min -- Introduction
20 min -- Why Start a Community Group?
Expand Circles of Communication Partners. Sarah Blackstone (Blackstone & Berg, 2003) has developed this concept of Circles of Communication Partners:
Provide Support! Groups offer support to AAC users and their families (including parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, and others). We also provide supports to teachers, therapists, habilitation workers, and mentors.
Who Should Take This Course?
This is an excellent multi-age activity. We have had people who use AAC from age 4-52. The groups welcome individuals using:
• A range of communication devices and language systems
• Various access methods (direct selection, switch scanning, partner-assisted scanning and eye gaze)
• Mobility (both ambulatory & wheelchair users)
We have found that heterogeneity of group is a good thing, as it lets AAC users be both learners & mentors!
20 min -- What Do We Do?
Activities. Sample activities have included:
bowling, crafts (e.g., painting on pottery, making banners, scrapbooking, and
using a pottery wheel), taste testing (e.g., yogurt or ice cream), attending
sports events such as Diamondback game, having cookouts, and going bowling,
shopping, or to restaurants. We have
also done extended weekends, camping at the zoo and at a large camping site.
10 min -- Goals
We try to include activities from all four sets of skills that AAC users must have to be competent communicators (Light & Binger, 1998).
• Linguistic Skills: samples include working on poems, creating mad libs, and making group books. A key focus is on partner modeling, or Aided Language Input.
• Operational Skills: students practice access methods, and are shown strategies such as changing volume and programming new words.
• Social Skills: students are supported in turntaking and learning the parts of a conversaion, from attention getting to topic setting to topic maintenance to closing.
• Strategic Skills: strategies are shared such as using speech on to help partners hear and creating notebooks to save longer conversations or speeches.
How do we scaffold success?
§ Cheat Sheets
§ Use of Props
§ Talking for Points!
§ Advance Notice of Goals
§ Involve families, vendors and mentors whenever possible
5 Min – Q & A (including top tips)