June 2021

Tip One: Interactive Lite-Tech Language Boards and Social Stories

Tip Two: Environmental Labeling and Icon Lanyard Use

Tip Three: Using Clicker Connect as a Dynamic Word Bank 

Who is Phoebe?


Phoebe is a spirited and sweet young lady in the first grade, who is teaching us more about her interests and personality daily as she makes strides to expand her communication skills. Phoebe’s supportive mom, dad, and school team are always thinking of ways to engage with and teach her new things through her loves of movement, outdoor adventures, and most recently storybooks/text. While Phoebe benefits from structure and predictable routines to learn, she has shown us that she is also up for trying new adventures like hiking Mt. Sugarloaf with her dad, learning a new song with friends in music class, exploring art mediums with the talented Ms. Sarah Tannozzini, or describing the new experience of what roasted red pepper feels like in her mouth to her teacher, Ms. Michelle Walden. 

Phoebe currently uses a total communication approach to communicate with others. While in preschool Phoebe presented with significantly limited verbal output, a strong desire to communicate, and an AAC assessment revealed the ability to successfully navigate a dynamic high-tech system. The Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP Words for Life) was recommended and implemented in order to help support her access to functional communication. With the progression of Phoebe’s skills and further understanding of her learning needs, Phoebe’s communication system and support has also evolved. Phoebe now uses verbal communication and gesture of as her primary means of expression. She benefits from a variety lite tech supports embedded into her environment and within tasks to assist in her comprehension of language, as well as support her to initiate, expand upon, and organize her verbal output. Phoebe expresses wants, needs, feelings, and comments with the support of these lite tech supports incorporating both core and motivating/personalized vocabulary.   This year, Phoebe’s reading skills have blossomed along with her interest in books. Text/written based supports are now being used regularly to help support her understanding and engagement. She has also benefitted from the use of Clicker Connect app as a dynamic “word bank” tool with auditory feedback to support her written and oral expression. 


TechTip: Interactive Lite-Tech Language Boards and Personalized Stories


What is goal/purpose? 

Lite-tech language boards are very important for Phoebe. Her teachers use these boards to provide aided language stimulation, a strategy in which language is modeled to help expand and develop utterances by providing receptive input to the individual. The board is used to provide visual support to Phoebe when asking her a question or providing her with information about her day. Expressively, Phoebe uses this manipulative board to create sentences or respond to questions. 

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Phoebe also benefits from the use of written social narratives to access and process new information and develop social scripts. Below is a portion of a story which taps in to Phoebe’s love of Bitmoji drawings and the SpongeBob character to help with engagement. This book is embedded with Symbolstix icons to provide consistency across her visual supports. 

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How is it used? 

Phoebe currently has two different versions of the lite tech language board. One is larger, with removable Velcro pieces, and is affixed to the wall of her classroom, or used on the table in her workspace. Phoebe benefits from the manipulative nature of this board, allowing for teachers to pull of one or several icons, and highlight or sequence utterances using aided language stimulation. Phoebe also uses a smaller, more portable book when she is moving throughout the school. The cover of this book is reflective of her large board, followed by subsequent pages containing more specific topic or situation-based vocabulary. These supports can also serve as prompts within interactions with friends, sharing information, or making requests to desired activities or actions.

How is it accessed? 

Phoebe utilizes a combination of text, Symbolstix icons, and personalized photos/characters to access to her lite-tech language supports. Phoebe’s team works to match her interests with activities to help maximize her engagement and motivation in language-based tasks. In addition, matching the tool to the situation has been important, with consideration of vocabulary needed, board size, location (inside/outside), level of manipulation/portability, etc. 


TechTip: Environmental Labeling and Icon Lanyard Use

What is goal/purpose? 

With Phoebe’s continued language growth, her team works to support her communication across environments and partners. While Phoebe frequently uses verbal communication to express herself, at times she benefits from cuing to expand her utterances or to verbalize when frustrated. Phoebe’s teachers utilize a least-to-most prompting hierarchy when cuing her previously acquired skills, providing the least support necessary to achieve success and foster her independence. Visual supports and carrier phrase cues can be helpful in reducing the need for direct verbal modeling. 

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How is it used? 

Phoebe’s teacher and support staff wear lanyard sized individual icons or sequences to allow for portability and increase attention to the visual support. Phoebe’s educational support staff member, Ms. Sarah, also frequently utilizes a small dry-erase board and marker to provide novel text-based support for the comprehension of verbal instructions, unexpected schedules changes, and novel “word banks.” Individual icons and icon sequences are also embedded throughout Phoebe’s workspace. Whenever possible, symbols and/or text are paired with the context in which they could be used expressively or receptively to support understanding. “I want to eat __” is place near a snack shelf, “I want to go __” is place on the door, etc. 

How is it accessed? 

Phoebe uses these lite-tech supports in order to help reduce frustration, and to help her initiate verbal language within context. They can be used both in and outside of the classroom and are faded as the individual gains independence. 

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