Friday, November 7, 2008


Today one of my students, who has been in my class for about ten weeks, starting using an AMDI Tech/Speak, not only that but the student started using it well, very well. This kiddo is a shining example that the right classroom, with the right supports and the right behavioral intervention can lead to unbelievable possibility.

The student has never had a consistent communicative intervention, various low and moderate technology interventions have been tried and abandoned. Prestigious communication clinics contradict themselves twice a year on what to do next. The last recommendation was for a key chain based picture card system, yet this student needs the least possible movement in technology she uses. She needs for it to stay still no matter how often attempts are made to move it or throw it. The ability to move something is so distracting for the student that a pull off Velcro symbol system, a communication book system or a key chain system would be a set up for failure. This student loves movement from cars to bikes to a gait trainer. This student loves to be in movement by walking, throwing, grabbing, and just wiggling. Appropriate positive behavior supports, use of teaching technique like seductive removal and movement could be a reward and not a distraction. In short, we make it so things don't move, so that when she moves if is a positive thing, not a negative thing.

Thus we started with a static display communication board mounted permanently on the tray of the wheelchair and the table. Minimal teaching, with use of the prompt hierarchy and plenty of positive reinforcement lead to success. Then I decided to spend several hours restoring an old, abandoned Tech/Speak that has a tendency to play messages even if no one was touching it. The Tech/Speak was long out of warranty and required hours of re-soldering wires and careful cleaning of the inside and outside of the device. Thankfully it worked and the device was restored to full usefulness. Overlays were created based on the student's static display boards (the Tech/Speak in the picture is from a link to Monroe Public Schools, not my classroom) and previous successful icon training. The Tech/Speak was mounted to the wheelchair tray to make it unmoveable (using straps and my all-time favorite assistive technology hardward store clamps).

Finally, today, the student was able to access the Tech/Speak effectively, essentially the first time it was presented. Greetings, comments, responses, refusals, inquires - all no problem for this student with the "new" Tech/Speak.

That's what happens when a TEAM of people, from teacher to paraprofessional to SLP see the possibility in students instead of the problems.

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