Learning on the hoof

I’m not a very organised person and with three noisy boys am often holding at least two different conversations at once; one about socks, another about dinner tonight, all while trying to reply to a work email. No wonder I drink. My heart therefore sinks when I’m given some organised therapy to do.

It’s not that easy. First I have to find some time and space at home. It’s hard enough to get Joseph to do some drum practice, let alone persuade a reluctant Archie to do some therapy. Usually I need to have taken time out of the working day to have prepared something to use for the session, which means my props end up half made. And so on and so forth; it’s just more chaos amongst the chaos. I’ve held it together and done it when it’s been necessary but it’s never really come that easily.

All of which means I love the Vantage Lite. We can take ten minutes out to chat and in that time we’ll stumble across new words. We’re doing useful proper ‘therapy’ without either of us being inconvenienced. And – now this bit is for those who have been asking me how easy the device is to use – we can use these new words straight away, even when I don’t know where they’re located on the talker. There’s a magic button called ‘ICON TUTOR’. You press that, type in the word you’re looking for, and it gives you the sequence or sequences that will produce that word. It’s become a great friend.

In the video below, we get a chance to use the word ‘lift’ (while holding the aforementioned two conversations at once) and you can see it’s very easily located and taught. I find moving Archie through the sequence either hand over hand or as a model a couple of times is enough for him to remember it for future use. Hand over hand can be better because the child needs to learn a smooth motor pattern, so if they take a long time to move from one button to the next that motor pattern isn’t really being established.

There is (potentially) something I may have done wrong here and may need to change. The ‘lift’ that is programmed into the speaker is a verb. You can tell this because the final key in the sequence is coloured green indicating an action. Archie here is using lift as a noun. My first thought it that it doesn’t matter; I don’t produce the word ‘lift’  differently depending on its meaning, that’s established by the context. My mouth motor pattern for lift is always the same.  I’ll check, and if I find out that I was in fact wrong, and that LAMP recommends adding  a new noun-lift  to the talker I’ll correct here.

Edited to add: Verity from Liberator has confirmed it’s fine to use lift-verb to mean lift-noun. After years of thinking of symbols as being representative, as having a meaning themselves, it’s taking a while to adjust to them meaning pretty much nothing- they’re just a guide for the motor patterns which is where the language lies. Just like the rest of us I guess.

7 thoughts on “Learning on the hoof

  1. Lovely to read your blog (directed here by Liberator). My son, James has also just started using the LAMP system with a trial Vantage. Although James has less understanding and physical ability it’s interesting to compare notes! James’ fascination with buttons and switches is making the Vantage a bit of a toy, so we’re trying to work with that. Jenny

    • Oh will be very interesting to keep in touch and compare ideas. During the trial Archie had very few buttons available as he was on the 60 with most of the buttons hidden (I think we accidentally uncovered them at some stage during the trial), but he’s really whizzed with it since getting his own device.

  2. Looks as if the Vantage Lite is great for your family! Archie seems to be really motivated to communicate. We are using TouchChat on the IPad, but have a lack of motivation. It’s great that the Vantage Lite is such a springboard for communication (although between all your boys I bet you are exhausted by the end of the day!)

  3. We’ve been quite lucky with motivation. Archie has always been quite keen to communicate but has just had next to no tools to do that with. It’s taken him years to build up his own methods (or perhaps more accurately for us to build up methods, but those couldn’t be used with anyone else). He tends to want to tell us about things that interest him (changes on google maps for example!) and receptive language is still delayed but I’m hoping that as he learns vocab on the vantage he’ll start to use it more and more – that does already seem to be happening. Good luck with TouchChat!

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