Better Hearing & Speech Month: Communication Disorders in Infants

Posted on 2019-05-01 14:34:20 by Admin under Resources & Tips

Research across the board shows the benefits of early intervention. It is never too early to start speech therapy, especially with some populations where we know there is a high likelihood of a communication disorder being diagnosed. Plus, it's never too early to start AAC, either For some children, we know there is a high likelihood that verbal speech will not be the best method of communication, so the earlier we start on all things communication, the better! 

However, using AAC devices does not mean that we only use AAC. We can still try to improve verbal speech while also giving the child a way to consistently and successfully communicate with those around them. This is true for the toddlers, too!

  • -There are many communication skills infants develop, such as eye gaze, joint attention, etc., that can be addressed.
  • -AAC is not just about devices! There are many other types of AAC that can be used early on (pictures, signs, etc.) to help teach infants to communicate. Visit ExploreAAC.com to learn more about these multiple methods of AAC! 

 


Autism Acceptance – Planning A Sensory-Friendly and Inclusive Event

Posted on 2019-04-30 18:15:39 by Admin under Resources & Tips

For parents of a child with autism, going to parties or social events can be incredibly stressful. The noise, the activity, the food…all are potential triggers for their child. In honor of Autism Acceptance, here are some ideas for planning a party to include children with autism.  

Schedule the activities at your party into "stations" 

Try thinking of some specific activities you can host (that can go along with the theme of your party if desired). Dividing the children into groups and rotating them through the stations in regular 15-20 minute intervals (or however long you decide) can help reduce the stress of a party atmosphere.

Example stations for a Princess Party that alternate between fast and slow-paced activities:

  • -Princess Bounce House, Princess Dress-Up Closet, Pin the Crown on the Princess, Princess Coloring Station (coloring books, crayons, etc.), Princess Freeze Dance/Sing-Along/Dance Party, Princess Foam Table (shaving cream with crowns, necklaces, princess dolls, etc. in the shaving cream), Princess Treasure Hunt (to find crowns, pearls, glass slippers, etc.)

Some children might need help transitioning between stations and may need updates on how much time they have. Saying something like, “In 10 minutes, we are going to move to the next station…in 5 minutes…in 3 minutes…” can be helpful. Let the parents know so they can help their child if needed since they likely already have some strategies or tricks to help with transitions.

Try to avoid scheduling too many hyper-stimulating games back-to-back (think high-energy games like tag, freeze dance, relay races, jumping on the moon bounce, etc.). Instead, try to alternate these activities with other slower paced ones (think coloring books, crafts, a puzzle or board game station). Alternating fast-paced and slow-paced activities can help some kids avoid over-stimulation that can lead to fits or other behaviors.

Since some children do not transition well between activities (parents may indicate this to you upon receiving the invitation), having separate “Active” and “Quiet” places may be the best option for your party. Maybe the backyard is where the kids can go to run around and play games, but inside, you have a designated room for slower-paced games and activities. 

Designate a sensory safe room

A comfortable, quiet and low-lit sensory safe room can serve as a place for an over-stimulated child to settle down. This room should be a place where you won’t worry that anything valuable will be broken.  Here are some other features to consider in the room: 

  • -Place blankets, pillows, bean bags, etc. around the room to make it cozier should the child(ren) wish to lay down.
  • -This space should be able to have dim light available. Lights and sounds can sometimes be overwhelming to children with autism, so make sure they can get away from this.
  • -Make sure this room is relatively quiet and away from the rest of the noise of the party.
  • -Also consider items like light up toys, CD player with soft music, and/or sensory-friendly toys (see below) 

Sensory Friendly toys and activities

Not sure what toys or activities might be good for kids who have sensory processing difficulties? Here are some suggestions you can have available that won't break the bank! 

  • -Shaving cream — Some find it very relaxing to spray shaving cream on a table and play with it.
  • -Uncooked Rice (or beans) — Have a container of dry, uncooked rice in a bin that children can put their hands or feet in. Hide puzzle pieces or toys in the bin to provide an added goal!  
  • -Balls—Tactile sensations can be calming and pleasing for some. A stress ball is squishy, balls with nubs are bumpy, tennis balls are fuzzy, etc.
  • -Bubbles—a bubble machine or bubbles can be calming to look at for many kids.
  • -Play-Doh—similar to a bin of rice, this can be a calming sensory, tactile activity.  

Other general tips:

Flashing, blinking lights and loud music can be difficult for some kids to deal with. Consider having a designated music/dance room or space where party-goers can boogie! 

Think about reaching out to parents or attendees beforehand to see if there are specific food preferences. Children with autism may only have a handful of foods they prefer to eat. Supplying one or two of those foods can help parents feel supported that their child is included in the party. 

Some children with autism use tablets, pictures, or other devices to communicate. The foods and activities you decide to have at the party might not be available in the communication device. Taking pictures of foods and games then posting them on a board can help children select what activity to do first, which foods they would like, etc. 


2.18 Chat Software Update Packed with Great New Features

Posted on 2019-03-14 11:47:33 by Admin under News

From Special Pages to Vocabulary, you'll find cool and useful new upgrades to help streamline communication. Read below some of what you'll find in this software update or watch our helpful video:

Download the 2.18 software update for your device.

SPECIAL PAGES

When you make a special page your home page, two icons will precede the page name. If the page is currently open, you will see a green check mark in front of the page. The dialog box for setting special pages has been modified to use checkboxes so multiple special page assignments can be made through a single user action. This also enables you to unassign special pages.

ChatSMS

ChatSMS, the texting feature on NovaChat® and ChatFusion™ devices, has been removed from the Google Play store. It can still be installed on an Android™ phone. Click here for instructions to download and install.

VOCABULARY UPDATES

WP80 and WP108 w Keyboard

To complete the questions access using the first letter, you can now select "H" from the main page to get to "how"

WP42Basic & WP60 Basic

  • Provides verb endings when you select the verb “line up” (-s, -ed, -ing now appear when appropriate)
  • Verbs whisper, cut, and mow have been added

WP25 Scan & Touch

    • "2019" fixed in file
    • Next logical words have been added for the following:
      • Actions > take (a walk, a ride, a break, a picture, a bath, a shower)
      • Describe > good (job, idea)
      • Actions > take > a picture (of me)

WP20 Simply

  • Next logical words have been added for the following: 
    • Actions > more actions > take (a walk, a bath, a shower, a ride)
    • Question > how much > does it cost?

Communication Journey: Afasia Español files have been added


Language Lab Leader’s Labor of Love

Posted on 2019-03-04 20:15:20 by Admin under News

It was a project near and dear to her heart. 

For PRC-Saltillo’s Jane Odom, M.Ed., the Language Lab has been the fulfillment of a desire to provide augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) materials to educators, SLPs, parents and communicators themselves. 

“Helping to facilitate language development means the world to me,” said Odom, who developed the Language Lab in 2009. “Having the Language Lab available as an AAC resource for others has been a joy to develop and grow.” 

From that desire the Language Lab has grown – and continues to grow, with a new look and tools to make using the site even easier to navigate and use. 

The new website’s updated features, according to Odom, will include guided lesson plans, a new activities section, a new language screener, implementation tips, and more. 


For adults, there’s a curriculum available developed in conjunction with Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities. 

In addition, she noted, the site features an interactive language screener to quickly assess the stage of language a student is in, and how to determine when he or she is ready to move forward to the next stage. 


“This, I think, is a real value to SLPs, educators and caregivers,” said Odom. 

Each lesson plan or activity includes suggested next steps, to help learning and growth to continue. Guided lesson plans for each language state help direct activities based on specific language objectives. 

The Language Lab’s blog is expanded and full of stories: Touching. Informative. Inspiring. Humorous. 

Written by SLPs, parents and device users themselves, there’s a wealth of information, tips, strategies and more, all from people who are experienced and knowledgeable, said Odom. 

Like what you see? Be sure to “Like” your favorite lessons to help others choose, as well. Or, be sociable! Share lesson plans and activities on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. 

Looking for something in particular? A more robust site-wide search now finds resources in a flash. 

“The best part? An annual subscription is only $19.95 per year,” said Odom. “With so much available, it’s a great way to build language – and have some fun! And really, who can put a price on that?”

Check it out!