Our mission is that EVERY Pre-K student has a way to communicate. When a student is struggling with functional communication, whether from language delay, articulation difficulties, learning English as a second language or other factors, we have a variety of tools to assist him/her.
No communication tool stands alone, however, so we stress that appropriate augmentative/alternative communication (AAC) strategies be used as well.
Use the following jump down list to find an appropriate communication tool. VOD = voice output device
Picture communication can take as many shapes, sizes, forms and degrees of complexity as there are students who use it.
Just a few examples:
Picture symbols on a ring for a belt loop
Planning book for classroom use
Communication book custom designed for a particular student
"I need help" symbol velcroed on a shelf
Communication board designed for a specific activity
It is important to know that the following terms are interchangeable: communication board, picture board, communication display, picture symbol display, etc.
For many more examples to get you started, click here to view some ready-made boards we have available for download.
Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a communication training system used to help children acquire functional communication skills within a social context. Children using PECS are taught to give a picture of a desired item to a communicative partner in exchange for the item. By doing so, the child initiates a communicative act for a concrete outcome. For more information on using the PECS method in your classroom, contact the Pre-K SPED Autism Support Teachers.
Single message VOD
There are several different single message voice output devices available. Seen here are the BIGMack Communicator and the MiniCom. Each has a recordable memory and holds one message at a time.
These devices can be used for a variety of communication experiences - check out this handout:
Really, I mean it... check them out! Download them! Post them in your classroom or put them in your lesson plan book! They are excellent!
A few examples throughout the Pre-K daily routine:
Joining in with the lines of a familiar song, "The Itsy Bitsy Spider", "went up the water spout", "down came the rain", etc.
Phonological awareness activities, "Jack and Jill", "went up the hill", "to fetch a pail of water"
Home/School communication, "Mom, guess what we did today", "We played with shaving cream", "It was SO messy", "I loved it", etc.
Participation in simple games, "Simon Says touch your toes", "Touch your hair", "Uh-oh, Simon didn't say!"
Telling steps of a task, "First roll out the dough", "Then cut the cookies with the cutter", "Put them in the oven", "Eat them!"
Reading the pages of a story with a friend, "he ate through 1 apple", "but he was still hungry", "then he are through 2 pears", etc.
Telling a joke, "Wanna hear a joke?", "why is 6 afraid of 7?", "cuz 7 8 9!"
AND SO MUCH MORE
Multi message VOD (with levels)
There are many different multi-message voice output devices available. Each has from 2 to up to 32 (or more) recordable cells or buttons. Messages are represented with individual picture symbols or groups of symbols printed on a page, called "overlays". For an extensive collection of symbols, overlays and other materials, click here to see what we have available for download.
Some have levels of memory for storing more vocabulary. A "level" on a voice output device represents a set of messages that are stored together. The advantage to levels is the ability to program messages for a variety of topics and store them without having to re-record each time the device is used. For example, stored within a single device could be messages for comments, story, snack, planning, art area and block area that can be accessed with the turn of a nob and the changing of an overlay.
These devices can be used for a variety of communication experiences throughout the daily routine:
planning and recalling activities
singing verses of familiar songs
requesting food, toys, etc
making social or playful comments
retelling a story
calling out friends' names
putting phrases and sentences together for novel utterances
AND SO MUCH MORE
Dynamic screen VOD
"Dynamic" refers to devices with a touch sensitive electronic surface that changes with each touch. The dynamic screen replaces the paper overlay and all vocabulary is stored in "pages" that can be designed for a particular student. The use of a dynamic screen device in a Pre-K SPED classroom requires the coordinated effort of the teacher, speech/language pathologist, Tech Team, family members and occasionally the physical and occupational therapist.