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3 Tips for Working Across The Communication Pyramid


“Well done to Corey, he is making amazing progress!” This is the message from one of our fabulous therapy assistants, who has been working with Corey over the last few months to support and develop all areas of his communication system. 

When we first met Corey and his Mum Natasha, we discovered that he had lots of potential and was ready to put in all the effort needed in one to one therapy. However, Natalie felt that because he had access to Proloquo2go, one of the high-tech AAC systems available, everyone assumed that was all he needed now to communicate with others. She was keen for Corey to keep working on his language and speech while he was so motivated. 

Using the following 3 approaches, Corey has done remarkably well.

He always tries so hard and is really engaged during our sessions.”

Tip 1 – When Working on Speech, Add in Extra Sensory Input

One of the reasons why Corey was still ‘nonverbal’ when we met him, was because he wasn’t able copy sounds through listening and watching others. Some children really need to feel what their mouths have to do. So Corey’s sessions included lots of tactile input. One of the activities involved catching bubbles on closed lips, feeling the bubble then moving the lips to produce a ‘p’ or a ‘b’ sound. Corey even moved on to blowing the bubbles off the wand – well done Corey!

Tip 2 – Adapting Resources and Making Them Personalised Really Helps

To support Corey’s understanding when people ask him questions, we knew that he wasn’t motivated by simply following a ready-made programme. He loves his family and has favourite cartoon and book characters too, so we made some lift the flap books containing all the people he loves. This allowed Corey to develop his understanding of the question, ‘who?’ When he lifted the flap he loved seeing who was there and could answer using his communication app. Often, it’s not about the goal we set, but the way we present things that makes the difference.

Tip 3 – Model How to Use AAC Apps in Different Ways

Finally, we supported Corey’s expressive communication using his app. Although it is Corey’s app and is currently his ‘voice’ until his own speech can take over, it is useful to help him learn new ways of using it, through modelling. In therapy sessions, our assistant has been modelling symbol phrases that Corey could also use. She shows him how to do it, then he has a go. She provides him with lots of opportunities and time so that he can practise navigating through the pages and composing his responses.

Corey has been making great progress as he works on different areas of the communication pyramid at the same time. Every area plays an important part in our communication successes, the areas interact with each other and Corey is really pleased to be on his way to finding his own voice at last!

If you would like support helping your own child in a similar way, you might want to check out our new AAST online monthly membership. Learn in a small group, led by one of our founding therapists, and navigate the communication pyramid together!


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