Many students with significant disabilities have complex communication needs and are not yet able to express themselves using speech, sign language, or other symbolic forms. These students rely on non-symbolic forms of communication like facial expressions, body movements, and vocalizations. They benefit from responsive partners who interpret and honour these forms and teach symbolic alternatives. The purpose of this article is to describe ways in which classroom teachers and other classroom staff can be responsive partners using three targeted teaching practices: (a) attributing meaning and honouring early communication behaviours, (b) giving students personal access to aided augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems with a core vocabulary, and (c) using aided language input strategies to show students what is possible and how to use graphic symbols on aided AAC systems. These teaching practices are discussed using scenarios to illustrate how each can be integrated into typical academic and non-academic classroom activities.
Geist, L., Erickson, K., Greer, C., & Hatch, P. (2020) Enhancing Classroom-Based Communication Instruction for Students with Significant Disabilities and Limited Language. Exceptionality Education International, 30, 42-54. Retrieved from https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/eei/vol30/iss1/1
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