E has been using a computer based communication device for over 5 years now (here we both are discussing the choice of voice on Radio 4) with great success both at school and at home. However there are a number of factors that mean that the device is not always available or the most appropriate or fastest method of communication. Through the support of the therapy team, ideas from the internet and E’s problem solving and patience we have developed a range of low tech tools and techniques for communication.
E’s fine motor skills are impacted by her cerebral palsy so tradition signing is difficult for her. What she did though was create her own approximations to traditional signs which once shown , are easy for anyone to understand.
Before she was able to read or write, this was one of her main forms of communication and she still uses many of them today. The speech and language team helped create a book of signs for her to show to others.
Specific Topic Boards
The team who develop the computer based communication were also able to make paper based versions of some screens for specific topics. They are very restricted in topic but again allow E to communicate with others who may not know her so well.
This is her one for use at mealtimes. She uses eye gaze (looking) to select the picture she wants. This has meant that other people can help her to eat safe in the knowledge that they will know what she wants.
The boxes themselves use standard board maker signs. I would recommend working with therapists to create them in the first instance to maintain that consistency of language and symbol.
I am going to write some further posts on the tools we are using now together with some we are experimenting with. Please do share any tools or approaches you use.l