Keeping with Hello’s theme to Press Play this year, we thought it’d be fun to focus on integrating play into AAC use. We spend so much time with kids teaching them how to “work” with their device — how to request more mashed potatoes, how to comment in class — but we should also spend time teaching them how to play. Play opens up communication opportunities, and is the most natural setting in which kids communicate with each other.
- Choose materials that are interesting and engaging to the student, or, better yet, let them choose what to play.
- Place yourself at the child’s level, and do what the child is doing just as you would with any other emerging communicator.
- Avoid directions and questions, and instead give subtle prompts to guide and encourage play.
- Let the student initiate and demonstrate how the play should go (don’t forget wait time!).
- Play in the environments where other kids are playing! Try making a vocabulary board, laminating it and mounting it on the back of a clipboard, and taking it to the playground.
Play is a great opportunity to focusing on a few core vocabulary words each month, and build from there. One of my favorite resources is PrAACtical AAC’s resource for a Year of Core Vocabulary. When you look at the core vocabulary word, think of different ways you can use the same word. Turn can be “Turn the puzzle piece,” or “My Turn” or “Turn it around,” while Do can be “Do you want one?” or “You do it!”