- believe that everyone has a right to communicate
- provide individuals with a communication system that enables that right
- believe in their ability to use language
- provide them with a system that enables them to use language
By using ALS we are working with the individual with CCN as we do with all children using language: on their terms. It just looks a little different. ALS is a language approach in which the communication partner points out picture symbols on the learner's communication display and/or low tech symbols (such as picture boards and books) designed for that particular environment. While pointing we also add language and meaning to stimulate their input. We are modeling, just like we do with any child learning language. With typical children learning language, the child points to a dog and we say, "dog". Through the ALS modeling process, we are using symbols interactively to demonstrate. We see a dog or the individual points to a dog, we say "dog" and point to a symbol of a dog, saying "dog" again. How do we teach any child learning language? We model. As we advance in the system we are also modeling how we got there both through actions and through words.
ALS is a technique to promote both symbol comprehension and symbol production among individuals who use picture communication systems, through both low and/or high tech.
The purpose of the process, by Carol Goossens', Sharon Sapp Crain and Pamela S. Elder, is to encourage functional communication within an activity-based framework. During ALS, an individual’s communication partner (parent, teacher, therapist...) points to a symbol while simultaneously producing the spoken word during a natural communicative environment and exchange. It is a multi-sensory approach to receptive language learning: the learner hears the word spoken and sees it at the same time. This modeling of the communication system assists the learner to establish a visual and auditory understanding of how symbols can be combined to communicate during routine activities.
Research shows us that using this approach increases comprehension, motivates communication and assists with understanding the expectations. It has been found that by using pictures, we are making language and literacy development more visual. It allows us to combine the auditory and the visual information together during our teaching. It has proven to be a very successful technique.
Basically, it looks like this (from PrAACtical AAC):
STEP 1: Introduce the new word(s) using focused AIDED language stimulation
STEP 2: Teach the new word(s) with explicit instruction activities
STEP 3: Elaborate on the new word meanings with engaging practice activities
STEP 4: Provide repeated exposure to the new word(s) on an ongoing basis, in context of the activity
STEP 5: Check for understanding and reteach, as necessary.
Since the printed word accompanies each symbol on the display, aided language stimulation also may assist learners in reading development.
Think of ALS as a teaching strategy. The adult points to symbols on the user's communication display as they interact and communicate verbally with the user. Symbol selection is always accompanied by its spoken definition (what the symbol stand for). Example: "We've got to OPEN (pointing to the symbol for OPEN) the BOX (pointing to the symbol for BOX) and PUT it IN (Pointing to the symbol for PUT IN) the BOWL (pointing to the symbol BOWL).
- In observing language stimulation being performed by the facilitator, the child can begin to establish a mental template of how symbols can be combined and recombined to communication during the specific activity for which the display was designed.
- The technique mimics the natural way children learn to comprehend language, as it is providing symbol comprehension training.
This video talks about how important it is for adults to use the photos or symbols to talk to the child.
Remember, talking to a child with their system validates their means of communication and gives the partner a good perspective on what the child is facing.
- It takes time to get good at this. We’re speaking pidgin AAC until we get fluent, so just keep at it. Give yourself permission to be halting at first. Keep at it and the fluency will come.
- It helps to start small. If the communication aid, SGD, or app is complex, don’t try to tackle everything at once. Get comfortable with modeling using the main pages or screens first, then move onto other places where vocabulary is stored.
- Along those lines, it helps to start off by modeling only familiar concepts. This makes it a bit easier to develop a smooth motor pattern for saying those words so that you can move from hunt-and-peck to slide-and-glide.
- Visual cues can be very helpful in reminding us to use the strategy. A quick gesture from a colleague or a sticky note can help us get back on track when we start to say things without the AAC.
- Visual cues can be very helpful in reminding us to use the strategy. A quick gesture from a colleague or a sticky note helped us get back on track when we started to say things without the AAC. We use visual reminders with folks who use AAC, so this was a good opportunity to practice what we preach.
- Using aided language input helped us pick up on flaws in the programming or design of the AAC system. It helps us to spot those errors in the color coding, typos in the text, a misplaced modifier, etc.It’s contagious! The more we used aided language input, the more we saw other people using it as well. In this case, more is better.
- They will not only learn better but will usually really like seeing you use it too. Sometimes they would happily shove us out of the way so that they could help us find a word. I am sure everyone would be pleased to take that kind of help.
Explore... start bringing language into your environment through the use of language supported by symbols. For additional information on the implementation of this approach see: Aided Language Stimulation
- This is a great handout to share with parents and staff working with students who are learning to use AAC: Teaching Strategies: Modelling in Everyday Activities
- I CAN communicate. Hereʼs how to help me! Please post this card in the student's environment! (Send one home too.) Do this... DONʼT expect me to know how to communicate.
- Practical Strategies for Implementing Aided Language Stimulation a PowerPoint presentation by Linda Burkhart. Linda works closely with Gayle Porter and has helped to get the PODD program up and running. She provides amazing training in the communication strategies. If you ever have the opportunity to see her speak, grab it! She is phenomenal.
- Great video demonstrating the one-on-one use of aided language approach using a communication device.
- PrAACtical AAC: Tell Me About It: Focused Language Stimulation In AAC Vocabulary Teaching
- and many more from PrAACtical AAC.
- Nice PowerPoint by Kate Ahern, M.S.Ed.
- My Pinterest site will provide you with information about PODD (a specific language system) while demonstrating the use of ALS, through videos and resources.
- This is a great source for seeing ALS in action through several videos.