This week’s Technology Tuesday comes to you from Suzanne Phillips, the newest Communication Teacher at Imagine!’s Longmont CORE/Labor Source hub. Today Suzanne discusses how can we can use technology to teach individuals who are non-verbal, do not have communication devices, do not use body language cues to indicate their preferences, and have very limited mobility to express choices and interact intentionally with the world around them. Thanks Suzanne – we look forward to hearing more!
There are several students at Imagine!’s Longmont CORE/Labor Source hub who do not have a
formal system of communication in place. These individuals are non-verbal, do not have communication devices, do not use body language cues to indicate their preferences, and have very limited mobility. How can we teach these students to express choices and interact intentionally with the world around them?
We are creating a new Assistive Technology Lab and a Cause-and-Effect class to teach these students basic communication concepts! Our new AT Lab has many adaptations beyond the typical keyboard-and-mouse setup. We have purchased a variety of switches that differ in size, shape, color, sensitivity, and activation method. Students will learn to activate these switches to turn on individually determined preferred reinforcers; i.e., music, a short video, colorful spinning lights, etc. The individuals learn that activating the switch activates something that they enjoy. The process looks something like this:
Student presses or activates a switch > Reinforcer immediately turns on.
Student stops activating the switch > Reinforcer turns off.
Once this concept is mastered, we move on the next step: Two-switch differentiation.
The student has two switches to choose from.
Student activates correct switch > Reinforcer is turned on.
Student activates other switch > Reinforcer remains off.
After this concept is mastered, we can increase difficulty by adding more switches. We can connect different reinforcers to different switches and ask students to activate one vs. the other. We could ask the student to tell us which reinforcer they prefer, see if the student will express their preferences, work on fine motor skills, communication, choice-making and more! My deeper hope is that our students will learn that they have control over something in their environment. If they can master these cause-and-effect concepts, they could possibly learn to press a switch indicating “yes” or “no.” This would give them unprecedented freedom and control over their own lives!
I am excited to see how these students progress in a class designed just for them! I look forward to sharing their successes with you.
Bonus Tech Tuesday info! Check out this short video of Imagine!’s own Chris Baumgart explaining one cause and effect system used by Imagine! clients.
Can’t see the video? Click here.
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