Wednesday Feb 22, 2023

Sarah Lockhart: Using Requesting to Teach New Communication Functions

This week, Rachel has a coaching call with Sarah Lockhart, an SLP and host of the SLP Happy Hour podcast! They discuss a case study of a 5 year old nonspeaking boy who uses an AAC device to communicate. Sarah and Rachel discuss concerns that he is “stuck at requesting”, since he typically only makes requests during therapy. Rachel shares how we can lean into those requests and elicit communication using those high-interest topics. 


Before the interview, Chris shares with Rachel about his recent trip to Disneyland and some of the thoughts he had during the trip, including: the fact that he didn’t see any people using AAC in 5 days at a busy park; seeing a knit cap someone wore that said “I have autism, please be patient”; and the need to program phrases an AAC user might want to say in public, like “Go Bills”, into their devices.


Key ideas this week:


🔑 If you are trying to introduce commenting, you can set up a carrier phrase like “Its a train!” “Its a train!” “Its a _______” to help set up the expectation rather than just showing a picture of a train. The emphasis and routine can help students become more spontaneous and independent.


🔑 Some people with autism can get really anxious and want to know what is coming next. It can create peaks and valleys in their emotional experience - a visual schedule can help with that. To follow their lead during therapy and not be too rigid, you can include more general things on the schedule, like “read a book or new game”, to allow for adjustments during the session.


🔑 There is a lot of work to be done with coaching communication partners, and it can feel overwhelming. Instead of thinking about everything that needs to be try, try and focus teaching a communication partner to do one thing, and do it well. That can sometimes feel more doable for the both the clinician and the communication partner.


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