We made it! We are on the last step of the Seven Steps for Setting Up a Stellar Autism Week! This week we will be talking all about communication! Communication is one of the main diagnostic criteria of autism. So communication instruction and training is not solely the job of the speech therapist. It should be embedded into your school day. It is essential to include this aspect into part of your classroom set up also! Weekly agenda:
- Setup Considerations
- Embedded Communication Opportunities
- Communication Systems
- Stations & Activities for Communication
- Products and Resources
I have mentioned throughout our weeks of exploring the Seven Steps for Setting Up a Stellar Autism Room some hints at how your classroom setup should include considerations towards communication training.
- Keep PECS books and AAC devices in a central location. These are your students’ voice. They should be accessible at all times. Make sure they have a home base so your students will always know where they are.
- Keep AAC devices charged. There is nothing worse that when your students’ communication device has no power. Once we got all the way to the grocery store, where my student was going to order lunchmeat with his Dynavox, and the dang thing ran out of juice. If your student brings his AAC device home, make sure it can be charged at school!
- Include communication visuals at each station. Again – make sure everything is accessible and convenient. Behavior problems occur when you or one of your paraprofessionals have to jump up to go grab a visual or resource. Make sure communication visuals are ready to go at each part of the classroom.
- Make communication easy and accessible. Getting redundant – I know – but that’s how important this is. Whatever communication system your student is using – it needs to be easy. So easy that it is easier to use the communication system than engage in inappropriate behavior. Remember – our students use inappropriate behavior to get something. Make sure they can use the communication system to get the same thing.
- Ensure your students can communicate outside of the classroom. Life exists beyond the confines of your classroom walls. How is your student going to express their wants and needs at lunch? At the playground? At gym? Make sure there is a system where ever they go.
- Include systems for receptive language understanding. Remember – many of our students struggle with understanding what we say to them. Make sure your classroom setup includes a system for ensuring all students understand what we say and ask.