Methods and Support Tools
While in the school setting, the computer is a wonderful tool to introduce vocabulary for receptive and expressive language especially as children get older. The students find it engaging, interactive and challenging! The communication department has access to computer templates which introduces vocabulary to students so they can label and identify at the word and sentence levels using Comprehensive Communication. Our department may also support students who have needs within the area of written language, pragmatics, phonology, and articulation/oral motor planning. Using current technology is a way for us to help students find a voice.
The iPad is also another way we use technology to teach language, and also to communicate what we know and want to share with the world. Since iPads were donated to our department, practicing skills related to IEP goals has never been so much fun or motivating for students! Older students have also been able to independently communicate with one another either by using video capabilities to show events that have happened out of school or using Facetime, iMessaging, Gmail. Students have also enjoyed completing written assignments using the iPad and then emailing them to teachers.
Another tool that may be also used in therapy is the Fairview Learning Material. It incorporates the Dolch word lists (reading frequent sight words) in conjunction with sign language. Many words within the lists have multiple meanings (can=able; I can jump high. can=container; Please give me the can of soup.) This program helps students to think about the context of the word to develop a greater understanding of materials read. Bridging common phrases is also an area targeted by this program. An example of this is: The boy [went to sleep]. This would be signed “boy sleep” because this phrase does not mean “to go somewhere.”
For students who have motor speech disorders, we use a variety of tools. The use of tools and supports vary from student to student. For example, the Kaufman approach encompasses aspects of behavior modification (shaping, cueing, fading) for successful approximations, as well as our knowledge of phonological processes, which is the way young children tend to simplify adult forms of words. When targeting oral motor deficits, increasing the number of repetitions is important so that a student can produce words and sounds consistently. This type of therapy differs from traditional speech therapy which is used for students who have speech sounds disorders that are phonological in nature.
For children who are under three years of age, therapy is often connected to routines, early vocabulary, speech skills and the language context of the classroom. This is an exciting and natural time for fun therapy. Toys, animals and food are among the most interesting language topics for young children, as well as their peers. We play with toys that are fun and motivating for our younger students. We provide sensory opportunities so the children can explore through touch, sight and smell while learning! Interactive games such as “peek-a-boo” entice young children, as well as finger plays and other songs. Games are a wonderful way to encourage turn-taking skills and to increase verbal productions in a way that is FUN!