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- LEARN, LEARN, LEARN. You can't teach a system or method if you don't know it yourself. Request a loaner device; attend a workshop; practice, practice, practice!
Modify therapy activities based on the child's sensory needs and language skills
A child with poor receptive language skills and/or poor sensory modulation will need a lot of one-on-one teaching. Teaching opportunities should be multi-sensory to address sensory needs and teach meanings of words in context.
The more receptive language skills he gains, the more he will be able to do traditional teaching tasks. These should be added slowly as the child's ability to sit, attend, engage, and understand increases.
For more information, see Educational Guidelines for Preschool Children with Disorders in relating and Communicating by Serena Wieder, PhD, and Barbara Kalmanson, PhD.
Initially, don't worry about teaching concepts of the icons; teach motor plan with response -- a consistent motor movement "hearing the word and seeing something happen."
- Start with core words that can be used in sensory motor activities or that can be reinforced with a multi-sensory response. The meanings of words like stop, come, go, more, eat, drink may be easier to understand based on the response received than words like know, think, look, and because. View a list of common words and vocabulary frequency.
- Follow the child's lead into activities they choose but look for opportunities to expand their vocabulary. If a child likes to swing, that's a great opportunity to work on go, stop, fast, slow, turn, jump, on, off, up, down, stop. Make sure you teach words in various activities so that the child realizes they are not activity specific but can be generalized. Then you can pivot other core or fringe words off of words the child has learned (I go, you go, up fast, turn fast, my turn, jump off, jump on, etc.).
- If a child has delayed receptive language skills, remember to follow normal developmental sequences when teaching vocabulary. If a child is receptively at a one word level, don't expect him to create complete sentences with his device. A typically developing child uses many single words before putting words together. You can use Brown's stages of language development as a guide.
- Incorporate the child's favorite toy into sensory activities. You can teach words like 'mine' and 'go away' or use core vocabulary to make the toy do things. Don't let the communication activity become negative by making his favorite things difficult to ask for just so he can "practice more." Make it a game that the child enjoys.
- If the child has a PRC device, you can download the PASS software from PRC's website. This allows you to learn on your computer when you don't have access to the device. You can make programming changes on the software then download them to the device later.