Functional and nonsymbolic communication
Teaching students with special difficulties such as autism entails several forms of communication challenges. Communication challenges in such students require direct interventions and supports. Achieving such creatively depend on providing positive modes of communications that considered the child’s environment as well as the skills of the child in order to improve the learning and skills possess by the child (British Columbia, 2000). There is also a need for the provider or the teacher to actually understand the characteristic of the functionality disorder and the general educational implication. Since most of those students are usually defective in terms of their cognitive abilities, there is always a need for approaches or strategies that will help communicate effectively.
Functional communication that is being designed for student with cognitive problems are meant to serve as a positive behaviour support interventions for such students and this will help reduce problem behaviours through the use of meaningful or functional communication. Such functional communication can be verbal or gestural. That approach allows students to easily communicate their need in an acceptable mode hence avoiding throwing of tantrums when frustrated.
Vocabulary of nonsymbolic communication is predictable and can be defined. It lack convention and usually enhanced with the person or partner that has frequent contact with the child. The communicator and his or her environment are usually in a dynamic process which is aimed at achieving a working act (Martha, 2002). The major important consideration regarding nonsymbolic communication is the communicator, the partners and the environment.
Strategies for teaching functional communication skills
Strategies involve the following a Replacement Behaviour pattern or strategy and that steps involves: conducting a behavioural assessment or evaluation because this will help highlight the function of child’s challenging behaviour. The child will be evaluated in different settings and with different people (Child Care Bureau, 2004). Determining the behaviours the child possess that are desirable or acceptable or the present acceptable forms of the communication the student possess and those forms that the student can cope with to help replace those challenging behaviours. In evaluating the problem of the student there are certain modes by which the problems could be identified. These include: having a chat with the student, the previous teachers, and parents. Collecting data as regards to the frequency and specific circumstances that usually stimulate the condition or under the conditions where the condition do occur. Provide a hypothesis as regards the learning need of the student based on the inference from the analysis.
The important aspect of these strategies is that which will allow the communication forms that the student can easily perform, learn and acknowledge. It must also work for the child. The functional replacement behaviours that can be used for that student could include any of the following speech, gestures, signs or pictorial stuffs (Child Care Bureau, 2004). The most important consideration towards that aspect of formulation is that the child is able to perform it and learn it and it is within the child’s developmental capacity or level. The observations can then be matched with the outlined alternatives that have been designed for the case. The use of the communication skills or styles that are being taught must then be prompted occasionally and then reinforced so as to enhance the learning perspective of the student and the acceptance of the new communication modes. Positive behaviour supports will then be used to focus on reinforcing those positive aspects of the learning.
Purpose of communication
Since communication can be likened to breathing, there is no way a man can survive without breathing hence a person can’t survive with communicating. There is a need for patient with severe disabilities to hear and then to hear what people around them are actually saying. The purpose of the functional communication skills and the nonsymbolic communication skills is to help that group of student with severe disabilities to live well in their environment and communicate more easily. Helping those groups of student with the functional communication approach, the four basic objectives of communication are considered. Those objectives are: to be understood, to be accepted, to get something done and to understand others. The communication skills put into place for those students are meant to help them achieve those objectives in modes that are easy to learn for them and easy to use.
Opportunities to communicate in natural settings
Communicating in natural settings might be difficult for those students because of their difficulties however, when they are being understood by their parents and siblings. They might be able to use the functional communication modes or skills learnt to communicate with their family within natural settings. The important aspect of such is that there would be a need for the parent to learn and understand those communication approaches or models.
Framework for communication plan
Interactions: The interactions that will be implemented depend on the problems. In cases of problems with conversational skills, providing opportunities for structure play interactions allow for development of such conversational skills. Discussion routines might be provided so as to practise learnt skills. The interactions with the student should also be encouraged to reinforce different forms of learnt informal conversations. Prepared scripts can be designed to teach the student social forms of conversations.
Schedule: The important aspect of the schedule for the framework is dependent on the type of problem that is being identified. In cases of difficulties with language difficulties, there is a need for an increased schedule for more time to learn different instructions and comments and also the reinforcement that need to help the student to learn.
Training of staff: Teachers need special training in teaching student with such learning disabilities. The training principles and strategies for teaching will be important for the staffs. How those points are going to be applied in different cases will also be made available for the staffs.
10 specific strategies:
Using audio-taped and video-taped conversations in cases of language problems
Teaching student to seek assistance when confused in cases of language problems
Teaching on social interaction modes
Encourage participation in co-operative games
Providing supervision and assistance for the student
Teaching relaxation techniques for stress
In cases of poor concentration, provide breakdown assignments
Use of personal schedules and calendars for problems with poor organization
Provide exercise forms for improved fitness in cases of poor motor co-ordination
Always give second chances for such students in cases of academic difficulties and not assuming that student understood what is being taught.
British Columbia, (2000). Teaching student with autism. Ministry of Education.
Retrieved 3 December, 2011 from http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/specialed/docs/autism.pdf
Child Care Bureau, (2004). Using Functional communication training to replace challenging behaviour.
Retrieved 3 December, 2011 from http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/briefs/wwb11.pdf
Martha. S. (2002). A Manual for The Dynamic Assessment of Nonsymbolic Communication.
Retrieved 3 December, 2011 from http://people.virginia.edu/~mes5l/manual9-02.pdf
Texas Guide for effective teaching, (2010). Functional communication training.
Retrieved 4 December, 2011 from http://www.txautism.net/docs/Guide/Interventions/FunctionalCommunication.pdf
Richmond, M & Todd., H, (2009). Enhancing functional communication skills of children with ASD accross enviroments.
Retrieved 3 December, 2011 from https://louisville.edu/education/kyautismtraining/handouts/CCBD2009_FCT.pdf