September 3, 2015

Communication Practices to Make a Difference!

Summer is coming to a close and another school year is underway. Classrooms are set up, rosters set. As you are getting to know your students it is important to understand how they communicate. Are they verbal or nonverbal? Do they use an augmentative or alternative communication device? The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder has identified twenty seven evidence based practices that can be used when instructing students with autism, of the twenty seven evidence-based practices, 3 of those focus on communication. This article will give a brief overview of the 3 evidence-based practices.

Functional communication training (FCT) – is used after a functional behavior assessment has been conducted. It is used to help replace the interfering behavior with a more socially appropriate behavior. When using FCT the team works to replaces the old interfering behavior with one that is more socially appropriate, for example, a student is yelling out in class. The team teaches the student to raise their hand and wait for the teacher to call on them.

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) – the picture exchange communication systems teaches students to give a picture of a desired item to a communication partner in order to gain access to the desired object or activity, and example of this is a student likes cereal. They had the teacher or paraprofessional a picture of desired cereal and they get some cereal.

Speech Generating Devices (SGD) – are exactly what they sound like. They are electronic devices that are portable and produce either synthetic or digital speech.

While these three are specific to communication there are other evidence based practices that are used when teaching students language or to communicate those are Pivotal Response Training, Discrete Trail Training and Naturalistic Intervention.

If you are in need of information on how to implement evidence based practice or are interested in a data sheet to assist with data collection on a particular practice check out the National Professional Development’s website at

Communications Seminars to Help You Grow

Communication is an important skill that all students need to learn. One of the main characteristics of ASD is difficulty in the area of communication. There are many strategies for teaching communication skills. When teaching communication skills, the student needs to know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. VCU-ACE has a variety of seminars on commuincation that target the needs of all learners. These presentations explore effective teaching strategies for communication. Specifically, the presentations describe task analysis, motivation, prompting, reinforcement, communication visual supports, and peer mentoring. Check one out today!

Communication Inventories are Online

Determining appropriate communication goals is one of the most important aspects of an educational program for a student with ASD. The Expressive and Receptive Communication Inventory for Emerging Language Learners will assist educators in determining needs related to expanding the communication abilities of a student with ASD. It is designed to identify potential goals and determine priority areas for expansion of expressive and receptive communication skills in an effective and efficient manner so instruction may begin immediately.

Selecting an appropriate Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) system or systems is never an easy task. There are many systems that provide an array of features. When selecting a system(s) it is important to make the best decision possible that will allow the individual to actively communicate across environments in a meaningful way. However, it is equally as important to ensure a decision is made expeditiously so the individual has an effective way to communicate as quickly as possible. The Augmentative and Alternative Communication Inventory can help with this process.

ImPACT Online Communication Training

Hosted online by Michigan State University, this distance learning program can help you learn to promote your child's social communication during daily routines and activities. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have social communication challenges. Parent-mediated intervention is a very effective strategy to improve these communication challenges. In parent-mediated intervention, parents help their child achieve skills. The goal of this online program is to teach parents to promote their child's social communication development during play and daily routines.

ImPACT Online is free to parents as part of a research study being conducted at Michigan State University that is examining the ability to provide evidence-based parent training online. Participation involves filling out questionnaires to help the researchers learn more about how the program helps you and your child and providing feedback to help improve the usability of the program.

PLC - An Acronym That Holds No Relevance for Schools Unless the Focus is Student Achievement

Meetings, meetings, meetings, and even more meetings take up more time than ever in today’s schools and yet, our students continue to struggle and not be proficient on mandated assessments. Is it possible to work any harder? The answer to student achievement is not found in teachers’ working harder, but rather in a clear focus on student achievement and collaboration…and a school culture that supports both. During this webinar with Harriett Dawson, we will look at what Professional Learning Communities are and are not. We will explore various components of this culture and why it has been successful in schools across this country. We will also look at the roles played by school stakeholders in making PLCs improve student achievement.

This webcast airs September 15, 2015 at 3:30 pm. Register now!