How we communicate
There are many reasons why we communicate: to develop friendships and relationships; learn; interact; inform; ask questions; express emotions or moods; obtain reassurance; complain; express likes, dislikes, pain, discomfort; apologise; tell stories etc.
There are many ways in which we can communicate with the world around us many ways and modes in which we communicate with the world around us:
- Use of words and sentences
- Pictures (PECS)
- Signing (Makaton)
- On body signing (Canaan Barrie)
- Symbols (Makaton, Widgit, colourful semantics)
- Objects of Reference (as agreed by Walsall Special Schools)
- Communication aids
- Body language
- Facial expression
- Eye pointing
- Eye contact
- Drawing or writing
At Oakwood we strive to ensure that every child has a means of expressing themselves and we look to new ways in which our children can interact with the world around us. We work hard to plan engaging, real life experiences to give our children the desire and motivation to interact. We ensure that all adults in school are the best communication partners for our children; knowing each individual child and giving them the time to express themselves in their preferred style.
Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people communicate. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order.
Makaton is a language programme that uses signs and symbols to help people communicate
We use Makaton signs and symbols in schools as one way to help our children communicate. Signs and symbols are used at the same time as speaking.
PECS stands for Picture Exchange Communication System. It is an alternative communication system to teach functional communication skills with an initial focus on spontaneous communication.
Children with learning difficulties and autism, find learning easier when it is done visually. In PECS the child will be able to initiate communication by handing a picture or photo related to what he or she is thinking of e.g. a picture of a cup for drink.
Intensive Interaction is an approach to teaching the fundamentals of communication to children and adults who have severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and children who have ASD or who are still at an early stage of communication development.
The development of Intensive Interaction activities was partly based on careful study and analyses of how teaching and learning takes place in the early interactions between a parent and infant. The interactions and the techniques and principles to the approach of Intensive Interaction share similar key elements.
At Oakwood we are trailing a small scale study on the use of PODD. A PODD book or page contains symbols and words that pupils use to communicate. Pragmatic (the words that we use socially in conversation) Organisation (the words and symbols are organised in a systematic way) Dynamic Display (changing pages).
A PODD provides a way to communicate with others and express personality. It allows for requests, greetings, comments, questions and feelings. It also supports the PODD user to better understand what others are saying to them. PODD’s are custom made for the pupil using them.
BIGmack’s are used to communicate recorded speech, music or any sound. Repeated phrases from a story or song can be played back simply by pressing the large activation surface to hear the sound. They can also be connected to a toy or appliance for additional motivation.
Objects of Reference
OoR are items chosen because of their multi-sensory properties or their link with the activity. The OoR are relevant to the individual and may be a miniature version of the real object. Objects of Reference are used to aid memory (such as lists or timetables), aid understanding, enable anticipation of events and aid expression (such as using a cup to represent “I want a drink”).
Photographs are used for pupils who may be pre-verbal or have pre-intentional communication skills. They are visually highly motivating and can be used to directly 1-1 match. Photographs are also used to represent abstract toys or activities and people where no symbol is available.
On Body Signs
This is a language and communication system that consists of speech accompanied by the corresponding On Body signs. It has similar signs to Makaton. The signs are made on the child’s body to enhance meaningful communication. It is used with pupils who have visual, auditory or physical impairment and incorporates speech with touch and sound.
Voice Output Communication Aid
These are easy to use speech output devices. They are used as an introductory communication aid and also for curriculum enrichment. Voices and sounds can be recorded to enhance and accelerate learning. They are fun to use and very versatile.