Communication board

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by sammyrams, Jul 20, 2010.

  1. sammyrams

    sammyrams Companion

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    Jul 20, 2010

    Does anyone have or have seen a board put up in the classroom that has all the common PECS pictures on it so the students can go to one place, pull a picture of what they want or need off of it and then put it back.

    I have been thinking of doing this for some of the most common items and have it in a central location for the students. I am thinking that this may become functional if they begin doing something like this in their homes. They may not always have a book with them and their parents may just have stuff centrally located on their refridgerator or something.

    Thoughts?
     
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  3. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    Jul 20, 2010

    I've been in a classroom where they had a wall like this. The teacher had just taken those strips of velcro and attached them to a wall in rows and then she put up a bunch of PECs. It looked kind of neat. I just don't have the wall space to do it. At home it could be done by printing on to those magnetic pages and then putting the PECs up on the fridge.
     
  4. sammyrams

    sammyrams Companion

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    Jul 20, 2010

    Oooh, may be I can use some of my whiteboard for that. Good idea! My new room is actually two classrooms so it is huge and I actually have space for stuff now. Last year my room was super small and had no windows!
     
  5. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Jul 20, 2010

    When I went to PECs training, they talked about how that isn't a good idea... because would YOU want to have to go across the room and up to a board and find the words you want before you talk to someone? No, you'd rather the words be right there.

    That being said, I think it's a good idea anyway, especially for thosek id who are working on the sequence of needing to go find a communication partner. I keep "help" pictures, for instance, on cubbies, the sensory table lid, etc. to give a visual reminder that they need to ask. I keep "stop" and "wait" by the door for the same reason. I've had a "toy board" before with pic/syms or photos, and the toys up high on a shelf.. .the picture reminded them to use words to ask instead of screaming and whining.
     
  6. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    Jul 20, 2010

    It will be nice to have some extra space :). My room is also a conversion of two classroom in to our space. You would think it should be huge but when you throw in 10 students, 1 teacher, 9 learning assistants, 4 standing frames, 4 wheelchairs, 3 walkers and all the stuff that goes with learning and living every day there just isn't much room.
     
  7. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    Jul 20, 2010

    Also I think having them up where the students can see might be a good way to allow them to initiate requests because the visual being up might be enough for them to go over and use the PECs. Would love to hear how it works for you if you do it.
     
  8. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Jul 21, 2010

    I used to have one of those hundreds pocket charts w/extra PECS symbols stored in it on one of the walls in my classroom. Origianally I intended it just for storage, as an easy way for staff to grab a visual when one was lost/needed, etc. Several kids figured out how to use it as a large communication board though, which, though we celebrated their problem solving and intentionality, quickly became a problem because they would "shop" for the items they wanted that weren't available to them at that particular time. For example, "playground."

    I guess this could be avoided by making sure that the only items on your board are items/choices that will be immediately available to the students, all the time, any time they ask OR that they have the prerequisite skills to understand first/then, not now, no, etc. While we are working on no, my kids just don't understand much beyond basic first-then (with a visual) yet.

    Each of my non/limited verbal kids has a PECS book in their own color, but I also have black PECS books that I made out of old binders in different classroom areas. For example, in the work with teacher area, the PECS book has the available reinforcers on top, as well as bathroom, help, I'm frustrated, I like it, relax, I need a break, drink of water, take a walk, etc.
     
  9. sammyrams

    sammyrams Companion

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    Jul 21, 2010

    I like the idea of PECS books at each station. I think I will steal that idea!
     
  10. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Jul 21, 2010

    I just wanted to chime in here.

    Think about a kid who is verbal and able to "use his words." If this child were to say, "I want to go on the playground." We would respond with, "Not right now. First work, then playground." or "Let's look at the schedule, playground comes after lunch, not now." Even if you weren't able to reason with the child, a visual cue card, a first then schedule, referring to a visual schedule, etc. - all of these techniques can be used. They are used even if a child doesn't understand. This is because there is no physical way to keep a kid from saying, "I want the playground."

    With that being said, I am very against "taking away the icons that aren't available." Just as we are all able to say whatever we want regardless of whether it's available or appropriate, it is highly unfair for a child who has learned how to ask for something not be given that opportunity to request it.

    I don't think pictures should ever be removed from a child's PECS book. Pyramid Educational Consultants sells "no" symbols that can stick on top of PECS pictures. Even my lowest functioning students have been able to understand these. You can also use a permanent red sharpie to draw a no sign over the symbol and it can be removed at the end of the day (or at the appropriate time for that card) by using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (little known fact!) This way, even though it's clearly "not allowed" at that moment, the child (without a voice) is still able to request it, just like his friends.

    Here are the symbols if anyone is interested. Sharpie works well too.
    http://www.pecsproducts.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=23&products_id=60


    I am completely okay with having "Environmental/Situational PECS" available around the classroom. Whether it be PECS walls, PECS magnets, station/center PECS books, that seems like a great idea to organize the pictures and have the readily available cards. However, each child should still have their own book available to them. They should be taught to carry them around the room and remember them when they transition to a new area. If they don't remember it, they will soon learn to do so if they know that's the way that they can request the things they want. Hmm, I want chips. I don't have my book. Better go get it. Etc.

    Just my two cents.
     
  11. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Jul 22, 2010

    Just to clarify, I don't ever take PECS away from their individual PECS books, and I do agree that you should be working on ways to help students understand no, not now, first/then, etc.

    I think the actual environmental setup was the hangup in my situation. It was confusing to the kids. Having a giant pocket chart full of PECS symbols visible on the wall all the time was too distracting. What I like better about the books (both individual and station-specific) is that you can help them organize the most relevant stimuli to what you are doing on the front, on a specific page, etc. The kids are still free to request whatever they want whenever they want, but I find inappropriate requests and confusion to occur far less frequently when using the book as opposed to a giant wall.

    Similar to how you would put away or cover engaging or distracting materials during work time for all children, verbal or not. Its not off-limits forever, and the symbols might still be inside their books, but out of sight, out of mind, you know? I think having a photo of a favorite thing on the wall while they're trying to work reminds them, "oh, yeah, I'd really rather go outside than do this work....."

    That's why I think a PECS wall/station specific PECS books could work, but I'd be careful about what to put on it. I personally would not recommend having all the symbols in a child's PECS book up on the wall all the time - or if you do, think through how you will handle off-limits requests, etc. That's what I was trying to convey in my first post.

    That being said, you've made me reconsider ways I could more intentionally add in structured practice with off-limits items throughout students' day, perhaps by being "out" of a certain snack choice, etc. I have the "no" clings, but I really like the sharpie/magic eraser idea. Quick, easy, and they can't take it off!!
     
  12. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Jul 22, 2010

    Bethechange- Makes sense.

    I also understand the idea of having unavailable things on display, whereas being able to request them from the book is a different thing.

    If I saw a visual cue on the wall that said, "pay raise," you bet I'd ask for it over and over again. :lol:

    I do like the idea of the contextual/situational PECS books, because it allows you to have available icons in different areas of the room.

    I am just wondering about all of you guys who are discussing the wall, etc. Do any of you do the actual/formal PECS program? Or, are all of your kids still Phase III or below? The reason the wall wouldn't work for me is because my kids are all on the sentence structure (Phase IV or higher). So, if I made a wall, I'd have to have an "I want" icon and a sentence strip available for them. Know what I mean?

    I bought the Communication Easel from Pyramid products and I am in love with it. I think that I am going to use this a lot in our group cooking/academic/social activities. It's a big easel that you can display PECS on and it has a sentence strip at the bottom. You can keep separate activities on separate pages.

    http://www.pecsproducts.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=45

    Sits on the table and the kids can see the pictures. Don't you love it?
    You could probably make something like this just by using a huge (3-5 inch binder) and turning it inside out, and maybe putting a strap between the back page and the cover to hold it open...

    These are all good ideas...
     
  13. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    Jul 22, 2010

    For most of my students we use modifications of the formal PECs program that seem to work for the specific student. Generally we use the formal PECs program with our youngest students but as they age, we come up with a system that works specifically for them in regards to using PECs. Some of my students also used them as a stepping block as they did develop more spontaneous language as a result of PECs and now they are fading a lot of the PECs themselves.

    Currently the two students that I have working on PECs are in Phase II and Phase III. The one in Phase II may never get past Phase III (but we will try). The one in Phase III will proceed through the next phases for the next few years at least.

    I find that once a child reaches that Phase IV we seem to be getting deeper into exploring other communication systems (augmentative communication, keyboarding, growing verbal skills...etc.) and the formal PECs training often decreases due to the other system being more effective and efficient. I'm now looking at expanding to these P.O.D.D. books or through this Script Fading process that I'm learning about.

    At the same time I'm loving reading all this information about visual supports as its giving me some great ideas (love the idea of having binders in different areas of the classroom). I tend to work with PECs more in the form of visual supports than with the formal program for the most part.
     
  14. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Jul 22, 2010

    I think the original post referred to the wall idea as perhaps aiding in generalizing the basic ability to request/comment to other settings? When I did birth-3 intervention, I worked with a few families that liked to keep communication symbols made of magnets on the fridge.

    I agree that for kids who are making sentences, commenting, etc. using PECS it is much easier to just truck the book around -but not everyone is able or willing to commit to the learning/upkeep/consistent use of a PECS book.

    In my classroom, there is a "put PECS book here" and a "put schedule here" visual cue in every area to help the kids stay as organized and independent as possible with transitions.....but I can also understand that in the world of family life, not everyone is that structured and things get lost, neglected, etc. It might be easier for some folks to just have a central location and then at least the kid has something.........or for kids who really might be only able to master phase II to III?

    I like this discussion also. I have not been formally PECS trained, but I purchased and read the manual last year and have been trying to be more consistent about incorporating teaching of the actual phases. I am especially trying to be conscious of ways I can make commenting on things accessible to kids throughout the day. My kids are spread between phases II and V, and they are wizards at requesting! But not so much with commenting, asking questions, communicating feelings, emotions, etc. That's why I like my station binders, b/c then I can experiment with different functional words and phrases related to specific activities and use them during direct teaching sessions, then phase them into the kids' actual PECS books as they master. So that's where I'm at. I'd love to hear any ideas for creative ways to teach those things!

    m2m, can you tell me more about P.O.D.D. communication books? I googled them and they look overwhelming!
     
  15. mom2mikey

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    Jul 22, 2010

    bethechange - I have not been formally trained with P.O.D.D. but I did buy the manual and materials earlier this year and have been trying to learn and read as much as I can. I'm hoping that there will be a training session close enough to me at some point so I can get more training on it.

    All the same I feel like I'm learning enough to start to implement some of what is involved with this system and I'm very excited about it.

    A couple neat things that I noted while reseaching P.O.D.D. are

    - we often expect a different type of "output communication" for students then what our "input communication" is - P.O.D.D. is based on the idea of immersion in a "language" - you introduce students to it by using the communication book yourself when communicating with them. The ideas is similar to that of a French Immersion school where students pick up what they need while they are immersed in a language. Students will also see the process and purpose of the books much more readily when approached this way.

    - The books can be used with a variety of learnings including those who use eye-gaze to pictures, those who do partner-assisted types of scanning, those who use a point to picture approach, those who use an exchange approach...etc. It is very versatile. I'm actually going to start them with my most physically involved students first and we will be using a partner assisted scanning process with them indicating yes/no as appropriate. I do think there is value in them for my PECs learners as well but feel I need to attack this one step at a time. I also see that I could set up a leveled communication devise using the format and it could really change the way that devise is used.

    - The system is set up in a way that models the way we speak. Rather than puting everything in categories, it starts with the reasons we communicate (I need, I have a story to tell, I feel, I have a question...etc.). You then jump all over all the book based on where the student leads you. It opens up doors beyond just basic requesting and allows the student to be more of a director in the process.

    - You personalize the system to the child. There are Boardmaker systems on the CD that you buy and they recommend that you just start using them and then make notes on the system you are using for a student and eventually create one that is specific to the child (so the people the child knows are in the book, the toys he/she plays with are in there, things they typically talk about...etc.).

    It all seems pretty overwhelming. I printed off a few sample books and once I had them set up I was better able to understand. I also found as I was printing them off that we are missing a whole bunch of opportunities to talk to the students as just looking through the books make you think of all these ways to talk with the students.

    The struggle I have with a lot of these communication systems is that we often set up situations for students to communicate things that they are already able to communicate in other ways and we make it less efficient for them to say the same things they had a different way of saying. These books don't seem to start at the same place as they are more about letting the student direct what they are going to say. I guess I will see if that is the case as I start to use them. I figure we will see what we can do with it and if its something that seems like it will work then I will pursue more training on it.

    They are offering a pre-conference session on these at the "Closing the Gap" assistive technology workshop in October. I would love to go but financially it just isn't doable.

    There is so much more (that I've learned and that I still have to learn). I don't know if this answers your question or not. I will post more about it as I learn more about it.
     
  16. sammyrams

    sammyrams Companion

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    Jul 22, 2010

    I am going into my second year teaching this population and sometimes still feel lost. I don't have a ton of direction from the higher up as what they want me to focus on. They kind of let the parents have their way with the IEP and it ends up more OT/PT tasks than any communication skills. I have not been formally trained in PECS. I have the manual and have implemented some of the techniques, but I would say that only 2 out of my 7 students would be able to handle Level II or III at this time. We do not have a formal structure. I want to implement something since the kids are in middle school and need to start learning some forms of communication so they can be successful as possible. Sometimes I find that we use the Tech Talk device and voice switches more, since the students are able to touch something easier than picking up and handing over a picture. Many of my students have more severe cognitive/multiple disabilities that I wonder if I am asking too much from them. I wish I could figure out what was going thru their minds. They probably think I am crazy!

    I like this thread! So many ideas have been coming from it!
     

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