Wanna Hear Some Gossip? Building Social Communication for ALL students


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Workshop from the Special Education Principal's Association of New Zealand (SEPANZ) conference 2011.

All of us need to communicate socially through our day – and it makes up a large part of what we do. We tell stories, chat, gossip and listen as others tell us about their weekends. Social communication is often estimated to be more than 50% of our daily conversation.

Many students who use AAC or students who have difficulties with communication have trouble with social communication. This often isolates them from others and creates difficulties with building social closeness.

This presentation will talk about some strategies for improving social communication, including visual scene displays, photo based storytelling and sequenced social scripts. The importance of small talk and using partner directed questions will be discussed – and research showing how crucial this is for people with disabilities to build their social networks will be covered. Use of technology, including speech generating devices and iPads to support students in this area will also be addressed.

Come along and have fun – and learn about helping students with complex communication needs to develop their social communication skills so that they can tell you about their day and tell everyone else all your gossip!

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Wanna Hear Some Gossip? Building Social Communication for ALL students

  1. 1. Wanna Hear Some Gossip?Building Social Communicationfor ALL students
  2. 2. Jane Farrall, MSpEd, CPSPSpeech Language TherapistSpectronicsSally Clendon, PhDSenior LecturerSpeech and Language Therapy ProgrammeMassey University
  3. 3. AAC System AAC system: An integrated group of¨  components, including the symbols, aids, strategies and techniques used by individuals to enhance communication. The system serves to supplement any gestural, spoken, and/or written communication abilities(American Speech and Hearing Association, 1991).
  4. 4. AAC Myths and Legends¨  Introducing AAC will stop someone from developing speech¨  Low tech before High tech¨  Has a little speech so doesn t need AAC¨  Too cognitively impaired for AAC¨  AAC will fix all communication difficulties¨  Too young for AAC¨  Doesn t need AAC as they can express basic needs
  5. 5. AAC Myths and Legends -Resources¨  Romski, M.A. & Sevcik, R.A. (2005). Augmentative communication and early intervention: Myths and realities. Infants & Young Children, 18:3, 174-185.¨  YAACK http://aac.unl.edu/yaack/¨  DynaVox Implementation Toolkit
  6. 6. AAC Myths and Legends -Resources
  7. 7. AAC Myths and Legends -Resources
  8. 8. Social Communication¨  Social communication is a BIG part of our day.¨  We use different forms of social communication – small talk, storytelling, greetings, wrap ups and farewells.
  9. 9. Social Communication¨  Social communication is more than 50% of our daily conversation.¨  Light (1998) found that reasons for communication between adults were (in ranked order) ¤  Social closeness ¤  Social etiquette ¤  Information transfer ¤  Wants and Needs
  10. 10. So…. Let’s get more social!
  11. 11. AAC Users and Small Talk¨  Many AAC users use little or no small talk¨  This can be because ¤  They don’t have access to small talk in their communication system ¤  They don’t see the need for it ¤  They think it is a waste of time.¨  Light and Binger (1998) found that AAC users were seen as more intelligent, valued and competent communication partners if they used small talk.
  12. 12. Generic Small Talk¨  Generic small talk is small talk that people can use with a variety of different conversational partners because it doesn’t refer to specific shared information.¨  Particularly effective for many AAC users as it has many different uses. Generic Small Specific Small Talk Talk How is your How is your family? wife? What’s What are you happening? doing? Don’t you look Nice haircut. nice! She’s great. She’s a great teacher.
  13. 13. Generic Small Talk¨  Several groups of researchers at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln looked at the frequency and types of generic small talk used by speakers of various ages without disabilities.¨  3 – 5 year olds - 48% of all utterances at both home and pre- school/school were generic small talk¨  20 – 30 year olds - 39% of all utterances were generic small talk¨  65 – 74 year olds – 31% of all utterances were generic small talk¨  75 – 85 year olds – 26% of all utterances were generic small talk
  14. 14. Generic Small Talk¨  Most of the age groups used continuers as the most common form of small talk.¨  Really? Yeah? Great! Cool!¨  Go to aac.unl.edu for more detailed information.
  15. 15. Differences in Small Talk Vocabulary¨  The small talk vocabulary lists showed that some words were used more frequently than others e.g. OK¨  Some words were common across all age groups e.g. great¨  Some words were specific to certain age groups e.g. “bummer” was used by the 25 – 35 year age group but not by the others.¨  Small talk also differs based on your friendship groups, your geographical location, your interests and life experiences.
  16. 16. Using Generic Small Talk
  17. 17. Small Talk and Mealtimes¨  Balandin and Iacono (2000) found that it was nearly impossible to script the content-specific vocabulary needed for mealtimes for an adult in the workplace (although there was a good chance on Mondays and Fridays that footie would be the topic during the footie season).¨  In this situation, the only predictable thing was small talk.
  18. 18. Pre-school Generic Small Talk
  19. 19. Adult Generic Small Talk
  20. 20. Michael’s Small Talk
  21. 21. Michael’s Small Talk¨  14 year old with autistic spectrum disorder.¨  Attends a mainstream school with a full-time integration aide.¨  Michael has a Dynavox MiniMo but has recently developed quite a lot of speech, which is only understood by familiar people.¨  Michael’s device has core vocabulary with lots of fringe vocabulary around his topics of particular interest e.g. SpongeBob Squarepants.
  22. 22. Michael’s Small Talk¨  Michael has been very keen to interact with his peers. However, as his peers have got older verbal skills have become more important to these interactions.¨  Michael will often walk up to a group and simply stand there. The other children do not try to include him in their conversations, nor does Michael try to join in.¨  Some of the children Michael was friendly with in primary years will occasionally sit down and talk with him, but always on his terms. These occasions are decreasing in frequency.
  23. 23. Michael’s Small Talk¨  Introduced Michael to Small Talk.¨  Each of his favourite topic areas had a page built with partner directed questions and small talk continuers.¨  His old friends are very impressed with this change in Michael. They are more likely to have a chat with him and will sometimes call other people over to take part in the conversation.
  24. 24. Sequenced Social Scripts
  25. 25. Sequenced Social Scripts¨  Sequenced social scripts can really help a user to ¤  Get a feel for the anatomy of a conversation ¤  Develop turntaking skills ¤  Learn to interact with a variety of partners.
  26. 26. What are Social Scripts?¨  They support students in learning to claim, start, and maintain turns in a conversation.¨  Much of the information in this section is taken from “Can We Chat? Co-Planned Sequenced Social Scripts: A Make It / Take It Book of Ideas and Adaptations” by Caroline Musselwhite and Linda Burkhart¨  Also called Participation Scripts
  27. 27. What are Social Scripts?¨  Social Scripts are interactions such as joke- telling, sharing life stories and general conversations.¨  They help persons using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) move beyond wants and needs to using real communication for conversational purposes.¨  Often give developing communicators a sense of the power of communication.
  28. 28. Anatomy of a social script¨  Attention getters¨  Starters¨  Maintainers, holders and interjections¨  Turn transfers¨  Closings
  29. 29. Attention Getters¨  These are the phrases that start an interaction and make sure that someone is ready to listen.¨  Creative attention getters can motivate a listener to be interested in hearing more. They can also change perceptions of others about the child who is using the script, by conveying, humor, age appropriateness, and initiative.¨  AND they can be very motivating to use!
  30. 30. Hey, you guysWaz upDudeYoHellooCome hereLet’s talk
  31. 31. Starters¨  Starters are used once attention is gained. They set the stage for what the child will be talking about.¨  Setting the context further prepares the listener and allows the child to take charge of the conversation.¨  Like attention getters, creative starters pique the interest of the listener and often get a natural response that encourages the child to go on and tell the story, complete the joke, etc.
  32. 32. Guess what I did?I have a secret!Wait till you hear what I heard!You won’t believe thisDid you see the game?I’ve got something to show youWanna hear a joke?
  33. 33. Maintainers, Holders and Interjections¨  These are phrases such as "Shall I give you a hint?", "You know what happened next", "You will never believe what she said after that", "It was so awesome", It was really scary", etc.¨  They allow the child to add interest to the basic story line while maintaining control of the conversation.¨  They also prompt the listener to make comments and naturally encourage the child to tell the rest of the story.
  34. 34. And thenIt was so funnyGuess what happened next?Wanna hint?I hate that!Can you guess?I’ll give you a clueIt was so embarrassingAnd then it got even worse
  35. 35. Turn Transfers¨  After the child has communicated his story, or sometimes in the middle of a longer story, turn transfers invite the listener to comment or give their opinion.¨  They give the child the power of turning the conversation over to a partner, without ending the conversation.
  36. 36. What do you think?Isn’t it amazing?Can you believe it?You won’t tell anyone will you?How about you?Is that amazing or what?What did you see?
  37. 37. Closings¨  Closings allow the child to take the initiative of ending the conversation. This helps the listener and also avoids that awkward feeling of “well is that all?”¨  Again the child’s personality and humor comes through in the choice of closings used.¨  Often several closings in sequence are appropriate, because people typically take several turns when finishing a conversion.
  38. 38. Nice chatting with youEnough about thatWhat have you been up to?Catch you laterCan you find someone else forme to tell about this?Hasta la vista baby
  39. 39. Exercise¨  In pairs pick a topic e.g. Joke, prank, gossip, message¨  Generate a sequenced social script¨  Find another pair and try your script out
  40. 40. Personal Storytelling¨  As we get older the percentage of small talk decreases and the percentage of storytelling increases.¨  Older adults, in particular, use stories to entertain, teach and establish social closeness with their peers.¨  As individuals lose their spouses and move to retirement and care facilities the need to socially connect with individuals their own age becomes important and storytelling becomes a vehicle for this.
  41. 41. Personal Storytelling¨  Schank (1990) discussed story formulation, refinement and storage in detail. He found a few different “types” of stories in common use: ¤  Firstperson stories ¤  Second person stories ¤  Official stories ¤  Fantasy stories¨  Marven et al (1994) found that for preschoolers, 9% of their communication at home and 11% at preschool involves fantasy of some sort.
  42. 42. AAC and Storytelling¨  Storytelling with AAC systems has become practical and possible with improved technology.¨  However, we must be careful that the stories are ones which the person would choose to tell.¨  Storytelling is very personal and must be individualised.
  43. 43. John’s storytelling
  44. 44. John’s “chat” cards¨  John is an 11 year old with autism spectrum disorder.¨  John uses words (which are mostly intelligible to familiar people), signs and a multi-page communication book.¨  John also has some challenging behaviour.¨  Five years ago, John had challenging behaviour every night when he got home from school.¨  His mum felt that this was due to his frustration over trying to tell her about his day.¨  His team decided that “chat” cards about his day would help.¨  They setup a process to write a sentence about each day.
  45. 45. John’s “chat” cards
  46. 46. John’s “chat” cards
  47. 47. John’s “chat” cards
  48. 48. John’s storytelling¨  Many of John’s old chat cards are in a milk crate in his room.¨  John began spontaneously using them with new people a couple of years ago.¨  He selects a few cards and then brings them to the new person. They read them with him and if they show particular interest in one topic e.g. playing basketball he will go and get more things around this topic.¨  He brings out fewer chat cards as people become more familiar with him and understand more of his speech.
  49. 49. Maggie’s storytelling
  50. 50. http://sheldonhickey.com/maggie/All%20about%20me/index.html
  51. 51. Just how important is socialcommunication?¨  In Building Communicative Competence with individuals who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication Light and Binger (1998) looked at just three different social communication skills. ¤  1. Use of an introductory strategy when meeting new people ¤  2. Use of nonobligatory turns to increase participation in social interactions ¤  3. Use of partner-focused questions to demonstrate an interest in the partner.
  52. 52. Use of an introductory strategy whenmeeting new people¨  Teaching a 35 year old with a closed head injury to use an introductory strategy to explain his use of AAC and his communication resulted in much more positive interactions with unfamiliar people, with fewer breakdowns and made the new partners more at ease.¨  Teaching a 44 year old with cerebral palsy to use an introductory strategy allowed her to be more confident and assertive with new people. Twenty adults with no previous experience of AAC viewed tapes of Maureen meeting new people pre and post. 100% of them reported she was a more competent communicator when she used an introductory strategy.
  53. 53. Use of nonobligatory turn taking¨  Teaching a young (4½ year old) child with cerebral palsy to use non-obligatory turn taking via AAC meant that the child was initiating more frequently and was more eager to participate in group activities. One of her peers said she was more fun to play with. Her speech improved and she acquired 30 new words.¨  Teaching a 14 year old with autism to take non-obligatory turns also resulted in a increase in initiating and turn taking. There was a decrease in his inappropriate behaviours and he was less disruptive in class. 20 adults who were not familiar with AAC rated his pre and post videotapes and rated him as a much more competent communicator in the post tapes (although they didn’t know which were pre or post).
  54. 54. Use of partner focused questions¨  Teaching a 13 year old child with developmental disability to use partner focused questions produced a change in the focus of his interactions. His partners began to see his communication as more appropriate.¨  Teaching a 24 year old with athetoid cerebral palsy to use partner focused questions meant that he became a more valued communication partner with those he regularly communicated with.