With any type of therapy, sometimes you just find activities that really work. I was thinking the other day about some of my favorite moments so far in my career as a Speech- Language Pathologist. Specifically, I recalled my favorite therapy sessions involving AAC speech therapy activities.
Sometimes, you plan and plan and plan… and the thing that works best is throwing aside all of those pre-cut crafts (which took hours, by the way) and carefully chosen toys (because you knew exactly what vocabulary targets you were going to use with each one) and going with the flow!
I think we are experts in being flexible. That is why, yes, I have spent time in the past dancing like a maniac and then freezing in place so my student could give me “on”, “off”, “go” and “stop” directives while we listened to Let It Go.
I have attempted to squeeze myself through a children’s crawl tunnel in order to demonstrate the concept of “inside” and “turn” taking. I have spun in circles because my student requested using the word “turn”. I have hopped on one foot, created Play-Doh masterpieces, and watched as my perfectly arranged stack of blocks was pushed to the floor. It was all done in the name of language development.
I knew I couldn’t be the only SLP out there dancing terribly and singing horribly in order to promote communication. So, I asked around to hear what some other SLPs had to say about their favorite activities:
I like to use adapted books to help teach AAC. I have an adapted version of Brown Bear, Bear and my favorite AAC moment was when my student read the entire book – start to finish – with his device all on his own. Kristin, Talkin’ with Twang
One of my favorites is to use the song, “Ducks like rain”. I have some communication sheets made up and I have a little macs that says quack that the children get. When they use the little mac or point on the communication board, to say “quack,” they get spritzed with water (mimics rain). It’s great for commenting and requesting and protesting (if they don’t want to get sprayed!). Collette, Alberta Speechie
I love taking my patient around the clinic and having her introduce herself to other therapists and ask questions with her AAC device. She loves getting out of the therapy room and we get to work on functional communication at the same time! Alaina E., SLP, Texas
Here is one of my favorite AAC memories: I worked with a little boy who had a complex set of diagnoses including ASD, CP, and a paralyzed vocal fold. He had a g-tube, trach, and LOTS of challenging behaviors. No speech and the only vocalizations were reflexive sounds. His family was at the end of their rope because he would tantrum whenever he didn’t get what he wanted, so they basically rearranged their lives to keep him happy. Within 18 months, he was using a high tech AAC device fairly well. Anyway, they were driving to school one day and he used his device to say, “Look up. Colors. 1 2 3 4. Colors.” Can you guess what this smart cookie was trying to tell his mom? –Carole Zangari
I just did an eval this week for a boy whose mom was told her son really didn’t need to do anything more than request – and he couldn’t even do that because they hadn’t given him anything by way of AAC to use. So I’m told he likes bubbles (BTW he is 14) and I start blowing bubbles and begin with a single word model (more). I work up to want + more. After a bit his mom and I are talking )I was answering a question she had) and I stopped blowing while I was talking. He reached over to the Nova Chat and pushed I + want + more + that. –Susan Berkowitz, SLP–
I like to read books with my AAC kids! It’s great for kids at all different levels. For students just learning core words, I have them request “more” or “turn” to turn the page, and I use the pictures to facilitate commenting at the single word level. For students at a higher level, we target phrases or sentences rather than single word comments. -Emily S., SLP, Ohio
I hope you enjoyed those fantastic memories. Thank you to every SLP for sharing. Please, please, please if you are reading this post- share your favorite activities in the comments below.
Related AAC Blog Posts you don’t want to miss:
How Do You Plan to Model AAC? by Susan Berkowitz
AGB Speech Therapy, Teaching Shapes at Snack Time
Linda (Looks Like Language): It’s Not Your Run of the Mill File Folder Activity
Finally, I wrote this blog post for ASHA. It provides tips for teachers on how to incorporate AAC throughout the school day. Check it out here. Thanks so much for reading about my favorite AAC speech therapy activities!