Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Assistive Tech Devices and Experience Sharing

I know more than a few families who live with non-speaking children on the autism spectrum. A child who is unable to speak is usually offered some sort of communication device as part of assistive technology.

My experience with the devices and the technology is so VERY limited it's almost nothing.

However, parents talk to me about the devices, I begin to ask questions. Overwhelmingly, the devices appear to me to be used for teaching the child to a) mand and b) answer questions.

The daughter of a friend uses a device, and I asked her mother if there were any experience sharing sentence starters programmed into her daughter's device. She said she didn't know. She asked me for some emamples. So, I gave her some. Guess how many were in the little girl's device? ZERO. The little girl could mand (request, express needs) and answer questions if the answer was programmed in the machine, but communicate little beyond that. Sad.

Parents and teachers, you need to use the same device to communicate with the child. If there aren't enough programmed phrases for YOU to communicate to the student, then there aren't enough phrases for the student to communicate with YOU.

In case you're wondering, here's the list of experience sharing sentence starters I gave my friend.

"I wish"
"Here it is!"
"There it is!"
"There it goes!"
"I have something to tell you about__________"
"You are" or "You're"
"I don't know."
"I don't care."
"Oh my g-o-o-d-n-e-s-s."
"What would you choose?"
"Oh, drat!" (or whatever slang your family uses, like "crap!" or "boogers!")
"You make me"
"I am"
"My ________ hurts"
"I remember when"
"Do you"
"Can we"
"What was ___________like when you were a kid?"


Nicole Aponte said...

Experience Sharing is a very important part of RDI (Relationship Development Intervention). Are you familiar with RDI? It is amazing! It is hard to wrap your head around at first but keeping to the simple basics of what it encompasses, you learn so much on how to connect with your ASD child.

I attended a conference in Houston, TX last year with my husband and so many parents were sharing how their ASD teens were doing awesome due to the wonderful progress they have made through using RDI over the years.

We incorporated RDI after leaving ABA behind in desire of an intervention that would promote natural development in speech, social skills and understanding.

We started off doing lots of activities to promote relationship, joint attention and emotion & experience sharing!
Using DECLARATIVE statements instead of questioning and commanding statements was HUGE!
BY modeling our thought process out loud, it gave my son's brain an opportunity to start also thinking in commenting and sharing.

For example, "It sure is cloudy. I think it will rain" instead of "Is it going to rain?"

Many ASD kids, especially those who have done lots of ABA, will ask lots of questions that are just means to an end, trying to get what they want..."Can I have juice?" but not develop conversational skills unless prompted. RDI helps with experience sharing and commenting so they can have real conversations through sharing their own personal thoughts and feelings. It's awesome.
I can share more about how to use Episodic Memory books to develop conversation & experience sharing also.

Nicole Aponte:>)

Penny said...

Nicole, yes, I am familiar w/ RDI. We're an RDI family. Look along the sidebar of my blog to the Labels section and click on the one about autism intervention.


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