Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Expressive Communication

 Expressive communication refers to the language that is communicated thoughts, feelings, needs, and wants.  When a language learning disorder exists, below are some characteristics that someone may see in an individual with difficulties in expressive communication:

Pragmatics: difficulty initiating or maintaining a conversation.
Semantics: word finding and definition problems
Syntax/Morphology: difficulty with negative and passive constructions, relative clauses, contractions, and adjectival forms.
Phonology: Inconsistent sound production, especially as complexity increases.
Comprehension: WH question confusion, confusion of letters that look similar and words that sound similar.

There are many strategies that a teacher can incorporate into the classroom to help individuals with expressive communication difficulties, some of those strategies include break cards, choice cards and past event templates.  Some other strategies include the use of Picture Exchange Communication Systems, Speech Generated Systems, and All Done/Finished cards.  When choosing a strategy for your student make sure you take into their needs but also their strengths.  Each student is an individual and choosing the best strategy for them will be based on their individual strengths and needs.

Break Cards:
Break cards are important for individuals with difficulties in expressive communication, to help control frustration levels when they are unable to communicate effectively.  This teaches students to realize when they are reaching levels of frustration, and also it teaches them strategies to cope with frustration.  Some pictures below provide examples of break cards that can be used.  It is important to understand each and every students as an individual because what one student successfully uses as a break card, may not work for other students, so take each students needs, frustration levels and coping strategies into consideration when choosing the appropriate break cards.

Choice Cards:
Choice cards are not only important for individuals with autism, but can be very useful for all students in the classroom.  Choice cards can be very simple, such as choosing the banana or pretzel for snack and can be used in other areas such as music, to help choose and instrument.  Choice cards are not something that can and should only be used in school, parents at home can incorporate choice cards for their children by making chores for them to complete such as doing the dishes, setting the table, feeding the dog, or cleaning up toys.  This is something that can be used universal and allows individuals with expressive communication difficulties a choice, instead of someone else choosing for them.  


Past Event Cards:
Individuals with ASD have difficulty relating past events.  One way for a teacher or parent to help students make the connections it to construct a template for students to either fill in or circle the option.  Below is an example of a template for a student, but individuals needs must be taken int consideration when constructing the template.  This template would be useful at the end of the school day to recap the day.  In one case a student must circle their response, and in another case a student must fill in the blank space.  

Today I ate _________________( peanut butter & jelly, ham & cheese, turkey & cheese) for lunch.  
The book I read today was ________________________. 
I went to _______________(gym, art, music) today.  

The resources listed are not from the information on this post, but resources for professionals and parents to read for additional information.  
Owens, R. (2010). Language disorders: A functional approach to assessment and intervention. (5 ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
PECS USA How-To-Templates Break Cards
ASD: Home and School, Anxiety, Breaks
National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness
Assistive Technology Supports for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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