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Riverkids Pediatric Home Health

2011 E Broadway Street #130

Pearland, TX 77581

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Low Tech Strategies for Teaching Functional Communication Skills to Children with Complex Communication Needs

Presented by Rachel Grimmett, MA, CCC-SLP

March 31, 2016

9:00 AM – 12:00 PM 3.0 hours of CE credit TSHA approved

Program Description: This program will focus on use of assessment-driven, low tech communication systems and strategies for children with complex communication needs

Program Objectives: As a result of this presentation, participants will:

  • identify means of assessing children with complex communication needs
  • analyze data gathered from assessment to determine child’s current methods of communicating as well as receptive, expressive and pragmatic language competencies
  • practice prioritizing vocabulary needs identified in assessment relative to core vocabulary per medical necessity within ADLs
  • observe samples and demonstrations of low tech materials used to teach functional communication skills
  • identify strategies to shape and bridge low tech skills toward long-term goal of successful acquisition and use of a high tech speech generating device


9:00 Presenter and course introduction

9:10 Review of evaluation instrument to assess children with complex communication needs:

  • Functional Communication Profile – Revised (video clip)
  • Reference provided for other available instruments

9:30 Analyzing Data from Assessment – Organizing Information for Report Writing & Goal Setting

  • Provide sample templates

9:50 Now I’ve Gathered the Data – Where do I start?

  • What words does the child understand and/or already communicate? By what means is the child communicating?
  • What functional communication skills are medically necessary for children with complex communication needs?
    • Requesting: help, suctioning, repositioning, food, drink, diaper change
    • Providing information: answer yes-no questions relative to self; presence/absence of pain (hurt), identification of pain source/body parts
    • Self-Expression: basic needs (positioning, feeding, illness, feelings, asking questions, etc.)
    • Review of core vocabulary handout, What core words support medically necessary functional communication skills?

10:20 Presentation and Demonstration of Low Tech Strategies

  • How can I make low tech materials?
  • Communication Board for requesting
  • Core Vocabulary Communication Book
  • Expanded Communication Book with Core and Preferences for requesting
  • Use of partner-assisted eye gaze, partner-assisted scanning or direct access.

10:45 What activities and strategies can be used to teach core with a communication book: modeling,

visual and auditory cueing, errorless learning, repeated review and drill, use of word in a

variety of contexts /activities, using child’s preferences to teach vocabulary (follow child’s


Provide handout with activities that can be used to teach core.

Video clip examples will be shown.

  • Using picture symbols during play
  • Using picture symbols while reading books
  • Using picture symbols during ADLs
  • Using picture symbols for making choices (specific and within categories)

11:30 If a family goal is for the child to acquire a high-tech speech generating device, how

can time spent teaching with low tech materials support successful acquisition of a device?

11:45 Wrap-up / Q & A

12:00 Dismissed

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Riverkids Pediatric Home Health

2011 E Broadway Street #130

Pearland, TX 77581

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