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The Use Of Augmentative Or Alternative Communication (Aac) System For Communication And Learning

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Downey (2004) states “according to the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA), approximately 2 million people in the United States have difficulty or are unable to communicate using oral language.” Many of these people utilize an Augmentative or Alternative communication (AAC) system to supplement or replace their expressive language. One AAC application that is used for expressive language is the Language Acquisition through Motor Planning Words For Life (LAMP). The overall learning goal during this Workshop, will be for teachers and staff to confidently interact with students who utilize LAMP AAC for all communication and learning.

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LAMP is an application that can be added to most technology devices, including an iPad. The application uses motor learning principles to address communication from a therapeutic approach. Individuals using the LAMP complete their expressive communications for all daily activities using words to build sentences on a speech generating device such as an IPAD.LAMP utilizes an English vocabulary and is based on neurological and motor learning principles that address the language development and communication needs of an individual. Typical development of communication includes motor planning of articulation movements, LAMP also uses a motor planning approach. This is done to help create those same motor planning language connections. “The LAMP app is symbol based for those who are not yet literate; however, those symbols are paired with text to support literacy development.”

“The LAMP method is a combination of principles related to teaching language and the programming of the device: Readiness to Learn, Joint Engagement, Consistent and Unique Motor Patterns, Single Words, Auditory Signals and Natural Consequences.”

The first method is Readiness to Learn. This includes a students’ ability to attend and maintain focus for learning. They must be in the right environment for acquisition of language. Not under or over stimulated. Students often require sensory breaks to increase alertness or decrease sensory-seeking behaviors. The level of the activity also needs to help foster learning success. The assignment skill level should be attainable to the student.

Next is Joint Engagement. Joint Engagement is the interaction between two individuals are communicating with verbal, physical or environmental activities. They students are interacting within the same environment to obtain a similar goal. Students need to learn pragmatic interactions beyond requesting desired items, they must learn how to interact in their environments. “Consistent and Unique Motor Patterns refer to how vocabulary words are programmed on the device allowing for fast, natural and fluent communication.” LAMP is acquired by continually completing the same motor planning movements, just as articulation is learned. Learning these motor planning movements will increase the students success with individual thoughts and communications. “Single Words are taught so that individuals can build their own sentences word for word, rather than pushing one button with a whole phrase.”

Through the use of single word learning, students can grow their own sentences to represent their own thoughts. Teaching this single words eliminates the use of pre-developed phrases and sentences that are commonly used for non-verbal students.It is a common misconception that utilizing AAC devices will decrease an individual’s articulation. When in fact, using AAC often increases an individual’s development. Having the consistency Auditory Signal, or speech generated voice, increases the connection of speech sounds and output learning.

Last, and arguably the most import, are Natural Consequences. When a student or individual attempts language there should always be a response by the listener. Students learn the natural consequence of their language attempts by seeing the reaction of the educator. If a student states “drink” the educator or listener should respond even if a drink is not in the vicinity. Respond just as you would a verbal communication “rre you thirsty” or “it is not time for a drink yet.” This will allow the AAC user to see that words and communications have meaning. Once teachers and staff understand what LAMP and AAC are, they must begin implementing and modeling for communication throughout a students’ day. “As mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, every student with a disability is entitled to education within the least restrictive environment; that is, they should be given the opportunity to be educated with same-age peers and have access to the general education curriculum to the greatest extent possible, with supplementary aids provided as necessary.”

AAC should be utilized to increase a students success in all aspects of their days; academics, pragmatics and self help. General education classrooms are communication based therefore, increasing an AAC using students independence with communication, will increase their interactions within the general education or least restrictive environment. Teachers, staff and paraprofessionals should facilitate participation within the classroom setting through all academic subject areas to assist with successful integration. The following are examples of ideas to utilize and model LAMP AAC use throughout various school activities by modeling and assisting with use of “core” vocabulary words. “Core vocabulary is a small set of simple words, in any language, that are used frequently and across contexts”. These simple words include nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.

First, utilizing AAC during structured core classroom activities. During Math, utilize the AAC device for counting games. Try taking items being counted “in” and “out” of a cup. Place items “on” the table. Work on “mine” when placing items. During Science, utilize the AAC device with an activity that involves movement, such as “go” and “stop.” If planting seeds, put the seeds “in” the dirt and request water using “want” or “more.”

Second, utilizing AAC during shared time. Music is a wonderful time to target turning the song “on” or “off.” Demonstrate “go” or “stop” while dancing to the music, and work on “up” or “down” with the volume. When the class is singing “Wheels on the Bus,”assist or model for the student with selecting “go” or “on” or other core vocabulary words from the song. During Art, utilize the AAC during coloring or painting, talk about color and discuss placing the paintbrush “in” the paint, coloring “on” the paper, or asking for “more” crayons.

Third, utilize AAC during lunch. Target “eat,” “drink,” “more,” “want” and “all done,” and label food as “mine,” point to “that” item on the plate, or explain spatial relationships like “on” the table or “in” the mouth.

Last, utilize AAC during unstructured times such as recess. Educators should help the student express “play” or “want” to join classmates. “Get” a ball and make it “go” “in” the basket, or request “go” and “stop” on the swing. When playing with puzzles, work on requesting pieces with “more,” “want” or “get.” Place pieces “in” or “on” the designated space and, of course, take them “out” or “off” after. While riding a bike, target vocabulary such as “go,” “stop,” “on” and “help.” When walking “up” or “down” steps, talk about using the device.

The completion of the workshop will be for staff, teachers, and classroom aides to be exposed to the many possible ways to implement AAC for successful student communications in the classroom. Increasing the educators comfort and modeling of AAC use, students will increase their independence and success.

11 February 2020

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