When going into the community, our students must have a voice. It is our job to ensure they have a way to communicate in school, in the community, and at home. Several years ago, I had a student with very limited signed vocabulary. She was able to independently sign to tell us if she was hungry or needed a drink. These were the only signs she would use regardless of the practice time we put into it. She was able to model any sign shown to her, but she would not use these signs independently. She would use PECS to express the same basic needs as well. Sometimes she would use PECS to let me know she wanted to draw. Her expressive communication skills were very basic.
My students go into the community on a weekly basis. I really wanted more than minimal signs. I decided to try something a bit different. I made her a ‘traveling binder.’ I included some of the locations we visited more frequently and had her work it in a method similar to PECS. She would need to choose from the different choices offered and add the desired item(s) to the ‘I want’ strip on the bottom. I really wanted her to hand me the ‘I want’ sentence strip, but she would not always pass it to me. Initially, this was completed hand-over-hand. (I always said a little prayer that I selected the food/drink item she desired from the board when using the HOH method.) She was a great student and allowed us to use the HOH method for instruction. Gradually, we began to pull back, expecting more and more from her.
Lots of progress was made using this system. She became fairly independent when using the restaurant boards. She still had lots of difficulties when using other boards, such as Kroger and the Dollar Store. We would use the boards in the grocery and/or department stores to assist in completing a list. This task, being more difficult, did cause additional problems. One of the better things to come from using this board was the way her PECS skills increased. She was able to select between five pictures to make me aware of what her needs were at that time. She would even add the items to the sentence strip and bring it to me across the room.
It was very simple creating this traveling communication for my student and paid off in ways I had not even anticipated!
Do you think the traveling communication system would be beneficial to one of your students? If so, click on traveling communication to visit the SpecialEdSimplified store and download the product for free.