Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Hide and Seek: Playground

Thirteen bloggers are hiding--hiding on different blogs and hiding in the school. They're here to show you that you can (and probably do) do therapy everywhere and that each locale has it's own benefits. For all their tips, hop from blog to blog. While you're there, jot down the author's blog/school location listed at the bottom of each post to enter into Rafflecopter

6 Top Tips for AAC Intervention on the Playground

Welcome to the playground installment of the Hide and Seek blog hop.  We’re SLPs who are hiding all around the school, providing speech-language intervention in out- of- the- box environments.

My ‘caseload’ involves many kids in many schools in multiple school districts with one thing in common - they are all functionally nonverbal.  They all need augmentative-alternative communication to be ale to ‘talk’ with us.

Children who need to use AAC need intervention that is egocentric and contextual to begin to learn how to use language.  We model use of the words in the AAC system during every day routines and activities.  We cue and prompt use of expression with AAC is the context of activities and routines.  And while we need to go beyond this practice to provide additional opportunities in less concrete contexts, we do so after we have established the idea that la nugget is used everywhere, all the time.

I’ve done a lot of intervention on playgrounds.  Often the kids with whom I’ve worked have been active kids, seeking all sorts of vestibular input.  Some are constantly in motion.  Others just need to direct the activity in order to be motivated at all.

1.         One of the questions I hear a lot is; “How is he supposed to carry around that AAC device/book/board with him on the playground?  How is he supposed to hold it when climbing the jungle gym?” 
            AAC is a system, and it is made up of pieces.  We all use a variety of modes to communicate.  Think of all the gestures you use.
            One piece of the AAC system can easily be a set of pictures on a ring that hangs from a belt loop.  Or a wrist board or book, which wraps around the wrist with velcro and can hold a single small board or flip-able pages.  Be creative.

2.         Follow the child’s lead.  Let him decide what he wants to do; it will make him more interested in the interaction.

3.         Use Aided Input (also called Aided Language Intervention) and good models when you talk about what he’s doing or wants to do on the playground.  “Want swing?”  “More push?”  “Go high!”  “Slide down.”  “Catch it!”  “Roll to me.”  Keep your language about 1 step above where the child is.  Repeat what he ‘says’ and elaborate or refine.

4.         Use time delay prompts.  We don’t wait enough.  At the point you expect him to start using the AAC target words, pause, use an expectant look, wait before you prompt.  The beauty of time delay is that it creates errorless learning opportunities.

5.         Involve peers in the interaction.  They are probably more engaging than you are.

6.         Have fun!  The minute this stops being fun, chances are you’ll lose the child’s attention.

Susan's home base is http://kidzlearnlanguage.blogspot.com/, but today she's on the playground!

For more fun, head on over to the next blog by clicking on the graphic below. 

To enter the Hide and Seek Blog Hop raffle, collect the names of the participating blogs and where they are hiding and enter them here.


  1. The playground is one of my favorite spots to do therapy, especially with my littles. It's very motivating and activity + language = learning that sticks. Great tips Susan!

  2. It is easy to come up with ideas for verbal therapy on the playground. I love that you have given such practical tips for using AAC outside. Can't have enough visual around!

  3. Tracy, it was fun hanging out on your blog today!

  4. Love these ideas to take to the playground! I will try these creative ideas out.

  5. This is a great post! I just started working with some students who use AAC and sometimes I don't have time to see them before they go outside! Perfect!

  6. I love AAC and functional communication! Such great tips! Thank you Susan!

  7. Great ideas for incorporating AAC! Love the idea of using different supports/AAC in different settings. I don't limit myself to only one method of communication-they shouldn't either.

  8. Susan, these are great ideas for making AAC functional and manageable in a situation many would perceive as too difficult. Kudos to you for normalizing your kiddos with their peers! Kim

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