Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Increasing Communication at Home

Many of our Rett Girls have great teams set up in their school settings, and maybe even private therapy where they are learning communication - whether it be with low or high tech eye gaze, PECS, PODD, iPad, switches, etc. If you're just starting out or even if you're a seasoned veteran teaching communication to a non-verbal person can seem a bit daunting.  Sometimes it is so overwhelming that we put it off, even when a device/style is found for our Rett Girls, we can sometimes unknowingly shy away from it because it seems to be too much or too hard or too time consuming.  

Well we're here to show you some very easy, quick and sometimes even fun tips and products to increase communication at home.  The more you practice communicating with your Rett Girl, the better and faster BOTH of you will get at it.  Don't worry about being perfect or using the exact wording (I know we've all seen SLP's with "scripts") or even using the same symbols and pictures each and every time, just relax and make it fun, not forced.

DIY Eye Gaze Flip Frame:  This is a great flip frame you can make right at home.  You can have different pages for different things - for instance one for snacks, one for activities and one for needs.  Don't spend too much time putting this together because it's easy to over think things and then procrastinate.  You can use boardmaker or other symbols - ask your Rett Girl's school if they could print you some extra ones if you don't have a program, or check out this website with FREE symbols.  You can also just take pictures of objects, food, etc. and print them off on your own printer.  It doesn't have to be fancy to be functional.  If you don't have the time to do this on your own you can also buy them HERE.

Communication During Bath Time:  Bath time is a great time to work on communication - multitasking!!  This is another DIY project, just get a kneeling pad from the dollar store, attach a few pictures to it that have to do with bath time and wrap it in packaging tape to waterproof it.  There you have it, instant communication in the bath.  Let your Rett Girl be in charge of the bubbles, what gets washed first - her hair or her feet - and even the temperature of the water.  Be creative, ask her questions and let her take some control.  The more she's listened to, the more she will want to communicate and the easier the process will become.

Yes/NO:  A great place for starting communication is with yes/no questions.  Check out this link that explains how to use personal talkers to teach and reinforce nodding for yes and shaking her head for no.  If your Rett Girl is not able to shake her head just yet how about just printing off a symbol for yes and one for no.  Always make sure to put the yes and the no on the same side each time, your Rett Girl can eye gaze to the picture or if she is able she can head point or even touch it.  The better she gets at this you can take the pictures away and she will learn to just look, head point or reach right for yes and  left for no.

Communication Flip Books:  Rett University has partnered with Susan Norwell to bring you her popular Communication Flip Books. The books have been professionally printed on durable Mohawk Performance Polyester plastic material that won’t tear, is weather resistant and environmentally friendly; Giving the users a durable set of communication books that they can take with them anywhere. All of the Flip Books use a technique called Partner-Assisted Scan (PAS). As the communication partner, you will say the options in each section while pointing to them. Then repeat with pauses between options to wait for possible “yes” response.  You can choose from a 4- grid communication book, uppercase letters, lowercase letters, core words or buy the full set!  

Remember, you don't have to have a fancy computer to communicate, you just need to think of ways to incorporate communicating throughout her day!  If you have any communication ideas that you use at home please let us know about them so we can share!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year, New School Ideas!

The New Year is a great time to make resolutions, turn over a new leaf, and take a fresh look at your Rett Girl's school situation.  Bring out that IEP, check out those goals - make new ones if needed and update goals that have been met.  Remember, you, as the parent, can call an IEP meeting whenever you feel one is needed.  Maybe all is well with your Rett Girl's IEP, but you are just looking for some fresh ideas. Well, we can help with that!  Here are some resources you may not know about
Brain Pop and Brain Pop Jr.

This is a fantastic website and app that brings an animated curriculum to students at all levels.  It meets Common Core Standards and offers both an introduction to new topics as well as a more in depth look into more advanced concepts.  Brain Pop Jr. is perfect for preK through 3rd. grade learners where as Brain Pop is for grade 4 and up.  Brain Pop Jr. has easy to understand, animated short films that are perfect for explaining different concepts and the Brain Pop Educators and Parents Guide allows you or your Rett Girls teacher to further explain and teach the material.  This website and/or app can be used at home and at school.

Accessible Books by Bookshare:

Bookshare is an online library of books that was started to allow individuals with print disabilities the same access to books as the general population.  Members of Bookshare are able to download books, newspapers, and text books and then read them using assistive technology.  In order to utilize bookshare you must have a qualifying diagnosis.  Our Rett Girls qualify because more can't hold a book or turn a page.

Check with your Rett Girl's school to see if they already have a membership and can add your Rett Girl to it so she is able to access this awesome resource.  If your school does not have a membership, is not willing to get one or if you are home schooling your Rett Girl, Bookshare has received a grant and is now able to offer qualifying students in K-12 grade an individual membership free of charge.

Eye Gaze:

Weather you are thinking of starting eye gaze communication with your Rett Girl in this new year or if she has been using it for awhile and are looking for more ways to incorporate it at school and home we have lots of resources we can share with you!

  • PECS Starter Book: If you're short on time and resources this is a great book to snag.  It can be customized with symbols that you think are important for your Rett Girl and comes fully assembled and ready to use.  It's great as a low tech way of keeping communication consistent both at home, school and around town.  
  • DIY Eye Gaze Flip Frame:  If you've got a bit more time and are able to print your own symbols this is a great way to make your own Flip Frame.  You can make several to again, make communication consistent throughout your Rett Girls day.  If you like this flip frame but don't have the time to make it on your own you can also buy it HERE.  

Did your Rett Girl get a new iPad this Holiday season and you're wondering what apps to get and how to incorporate it into school?  Check out all of our iPad app and accessory recommendations HERE.  For more information you can go HERE for information from the "Appy Tyme" lecture given at the 2012 Rett World Congress by Susan Norwell, Judy Lariviere and Linda Burkhart.  

Happy New Year to all of our Rett Girls (and Boys!) and to all of our families.  We hope 2013 brings all of us health and happiness!