Autism and Communicating

Hey y'all! Hope you're all having the most wonderful Summer! If you have already gone back to School, I feel your pain! I hope it's going well!

Today I'm going to discuss all about Communication Books. The one that is mentioned throughout this blog post is available at my store here.

We all know our autistic students have a hard time communicating with us, especially if they are non-verbal. This can lead to so many different scenarios, some of our students can get so worked up that they can't communicate with you that they end up having a meltdown, getting in trouble and having consequences when all they wanted to do was communicate.

Let's do a little *role play* activity. (I have used google translate for this activity , please don't kill me if something has come up wrong, I don't speak the language!)

Picture yourself in a School, you are the student. You walk in and everyone speaks a different language. A tall lady approaches you - possibly the teacher.
Teacher; グッドモーニング、座っています。
You pause, you study her face, you look around trying to look for help for what she has just said. You look back to her, she is getting impatient, she asks again, you still stand still, you have no idea what's going on. Then you're teacher starts to get worked up, her voice is getting louder, she's getting angry.

Teacher; あなたがしてください座るのだろうか?

Do you know what she's saying? What's being asked of you? No. Now how about if she asked you again but also showed you symbols too?

Now what do you think? Sure we can't work out the whole sentence of what she is saying altogether but we get the idea. What can you make out from this sentence? Look at the images and try to work them out.

You're correct if you said;
good morning and sit down.

The sentence actually says; Good Morning, please come and sit down. Is it relevant for you to be able to know the 'please, come, and' ? No, of course not. You can still work out what to do by the image of sit down, you know you need to sit down. 

Already, can you see what a different it makes by having the symbols? Now let's do another role play. You're the teacher and you have an autistic student who is non-verbal.

You sit down with the child and pass them a pen, asking them to write their name on the whiteboard. The child sits there for a few moments looking at you. You sigh, and repeat the question, directing the child's hand to the whiteboard. The child looks at you, still not doing anything, you begin to get impatient, right? Why is this child not listening? So you again, repeat the question, no sign from the child. You get a timer and start telling the child if they don't complete their work they can't has XYZ.

STOP. Picture yourself as that student from earlier. What if you're asking too much at once? What if you're using too much vocabulary? Saying it too fast? Not giving that student enough time to process what you have asked. Remember how awful it felt to not be able to understand what someone was asking of you?  Remember that the next time you think the student is 'purposefully' not responding to you. 

Now, next time try to add symbols to go with what you want. In this case, it could be something as simple as 'pen' on one symbol and 'write' on the other one. You could have completed the activity yourself previously and videod/photographed it to show the student. Do you know that students learn in different ways? For example, for spelling, I learnt how to spell and remember tricky words by timing them in the air on a pretend computer keyboard. Sad, right? But it worked. And even now, if I stumble across something that I'm stuck on, guaranteed if I think of typing on my keyboard, I can do it! So, what if your student needs something different? What if they need to watch someone else do it first? Could you begrudge them something that will take just a few moments?

This is where the communication book can come into it, and you'll be pleased to know it's been newly revised - so if you have previously bought this from my store just go to 'my purchases' and re-download it or visit the product page and re-download from there! 

So, these pictures are what a communication book in action looks like. Please note that these pictures are of the old style communication book, I have not got around to taking pics of the updated version yet. The difference is that there are options to print in full ink or just border, the symbols are now from Smarty Symbols and the whole thing just looks that bit nicer!

So, the 'I want' strip is placed on the back of the page in front and the symbols are all attached to the 'symbol base' page with velcro so that they stick. 

The pages included are;
different cover options

Here is the preview of just some of what you can expect to see in the communication book. Did I mention that it comes with symbols ready? It also comes with a walkthrough PDF with instructions on how to put together and use. If you manage to find that there is a symbol you desperately need that isn't on there just let me know and I will add it for you! Our classrooms are all do different and our students have different needs so there's always going to be something in particular we are looking for!

Any questions, never hesitate to contact me! :)


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