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Teaching nonverbal child to read


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#1 IJustGotHere

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 02:01 PM

I am sorry if this has been discussed, but I am new to the board and haven't seen this topic.

I have homeschooled for over 20 years, but not classically.  We plan to start that this fall.  That alone is going to be hard because due to two disabled children, my "neurotypicals" have been allowed (by me, my fault entirely) to slack, after I was too easily influenced by unschoolers I know.  That is NOT the lifestyle that is going to be working for us.  A totally different thread.

My biggest issue is that our 9 year old is disabled in several ways, one being non-verbal.  He is willing to sit and listen to reading, and signs (somewhat) that he wants to learn to speak and read so that he can become a cop or priest (LOL!).  He no longer receives any services, as insurance cut him off because he never improved.  I admit I haven't had him re-evaluated in a few years (honestly, our home life and school life was suffering from so many appointments!).  

At any rate, we are very rural, and would like to figure out suggestions about teaching him reading.  I have just recentlyl started the "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons"--which he actually loved but is unable to speak the sounds.  This throws me for a loop--how do I know he "gets" the sounds they are to make?  I read to teach just sight words--so far he can pick out his name, Xbox and Wii U (LOL--I know!) from a pile of printed-from-the-computer cards I made of words that would be familiar to him.

I am totally unsure what to even do--but sending him to the pathetic district school isn't an option.

 


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#2 Daria

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 02:08 PM

I have lots of thoughts for you, but I need to share them later!  

 

Can you tell me a little about why you think your child is nonverbal?  Is it related to autism, or a genetic syndrome, or a physical issue that impact articulation?  Knowing that information would help me give you more targeted suggestions.

 

Also, beside sign, is he using any other form of AAC?  Is there a reason why not?


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#3 Lecka

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 02:19 PM

This is expensive, but if you can click through to their website they have some information about their methods.

ALL reading curriculum from Mayer-Johnson.com

I think it is old now, but someone in my old town had a copy and my son used it a little.

He was not non-verbal but at the time pointing at answers was good for him. (He has autism.)

Edited by Lecka, 24 June 2017 - 02:20 PM.


#4 Daria

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 03:54 PM

This is probably going to be choppy, because I'm seeing clients today and will give ideas in bits and pieces in between.  Feel free to PM me if you have questions.

 

For context, I'm a special educator, concentrating on kids who have intellectual disability and/or complicated profiles.  About 1/4 of the students I work with have complex communication needs, and are either nonverbal or have extremely limited verbal skills.  I firmly believe that every person has a right to, and can benefit from literacy instruction.

 

Your son already has several wonderful things going for him that tell me he's well on the way to becoming a reader.  First of all, he's in an educational setting with a teacher (you) who believes in him and his potential.  That's huge, and unfortunately it's not something that many kids with significant disabilities have.  Secondly, he can already communicate about things that aren't immediately present.  Many kids with complex communication needs can't do that, so the fact that he can tell you that in the future he'd like to be a cop or a priest is fantastic!  He's also interested in being read to, and in working with words and letters, and can already recognize a few words.  Those things are cause for celebration.

So, you've got a bright kid, full of potential.  Where do you go from here?

My favorite scholars in the area of literacy for individuals with complex needs are Karen Erickson and David Koppenhaver.  They have a model of literacy instruction that is based on a program called "Four Blocks" that is designed for the general education classroom.  You can find some information about it here.  It is based on the idea that students with disabilities need the same kinds of experiences, as other students.  That is to say, that we shouldn't be asking whether we should be doing sight words or phonics or whole language, we should offer all these experiences, and find ways for kids to participate in all these experiences, just as we do for kids without disabilities.  

 

Here's a website describing the model.

http://literacyforallinstruction.ca/

I would particularly concentrate on the tab that says "Conventional Literacy", since you child is clearly past the "Emergent Literacy" Stage.

 

I would say that, given what you describe, your son would benefit from 6 of the activities they describe in their model.  Shared Reading, Predictable Chart/Book Writing, (note: KE and DK consider these "emergent strategies, but I've seen huge success with continuing them with my "early conventional" readers like your son) Guided Reading, Independent Writing, Independent Writing, and Working with Words. In an ideal world, he'd get each of these experiences for 20 - 30 minutes a day.  However, I think that anyone who works with kids with complex needs knows that sometimes life happens (in school or at home) and you don't get everything in, so their advice is to start at the beginning on day 1, do as many activities as you can, and then on day 2 start wherever you left off.

I'm going to write a reply on each of the six things, because I'm a total geek when it comes to reading.  Feel free to PM me for specifics.  I can also send you resources for things.

 


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#5 Moved On

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 05:16 PM

No advice, just wanted to welcome you to the forums.
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#6 Crimson Wife

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 06:07 PM

This is expensive, but if you can click through to their website they have some information about their methods.

ALL reading curriculum from Mayer-Johnson.com

I think it is old now, but someone in my old town had a copy and my son used it a little.

He was not non-verbal but at the time pointing at answers was good for him. (He has autism.)

 

This is the program I have heard of as being most effective for non-verbal students. Here is the link.
 


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#7 Lecka

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 06:55 PM

I think (it has been a while!) that it had line drawings and at the time my son really, really did better with photos (or very realistic-looking pictures).

So that is why it wasn't a good fit at the time.

If you know anybody locally you might be able to borrow it. We were able to borrow it from a lending library type of thing.

#8 Daria

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 07:40 PM

Mayer-Johnson, who made the ALL curriculum has a newer curriculum, called Literacy Lab.  I haven't used it myself, but it's supposed to be more content rich and comprehensive than ALL.  If you're looking for a curriculum in a box it might be a good choice.

 

However, both are hundreds of dollars.  If I was going to put hundreds of dollars towards literacy for a nonverbal child, I'd probably invest in a communication device (iPad and app most likely) if he doesn't already have one.



#9 Lecka

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 08:18 PM

Yes.... I think it would be one to try to borrow. If you have any contacts you could call and ask if they know of a teacher or therapist who might let you look at it and possibly borrow a level at a time -- that would be nice. I don't see it as worth the high price either.

Iirc too you can click through to a web page where they have videos and ideas for how to teach things without buying the program.

Edit: it is where it says "to learn more about he ALL and the skills it teaches, click here."

I thought the link from Daria looked excellent, too.

Edited by Lecka, 24 June 2017 - 08:25 PM.


#10 IJustGotHere

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 11:39 AM

I probably didn't give enough information--I apologize.  I still appreciate all the ideas here!

He is currently unable to write--although he pretends to do so.  We have tried 'writing" letters in pudding, sand, etc.  He also has fine motor issues, so struggles with it--but he sure tries and has the willingness.

When he was in speech, we did get his insurance to buy him a Dynavox.  Unfortunately, the speech therapist who pushed hard for it was a temp, the other came back, and we each struggled for hours trying to find ways my son could use it most effectively.  It ended up being a $4500 toy.  We didn't get any support for the rep who convinced the temp therapist that this was THE remedy for all the worries of the world (sigh).  I plan to try YouTube for ideas on how to use it for him--but even the regular speech therapist said it wasn't something likely for him to use until he could read.  Some of the ideas for it were that he could sweep to each page to find the picture to define what he wanted--but ASL was faster and less frustrating.  I don't want to use it in the tub when he wants to ask "questions" there--LOL.  The current model may be obsolete--I think ours is 5 or 6 years old.  The frustrating thing was the rep kept saying how it would help with speech, but we felt it was more conducive to an older, spelling mind than a late toddler.  And the rep was pretty non-existent after we got the machine.  She never answered calls our SLP would make to her for help.

We have an old iPad--with not much storage for apps, but any suggestions for apps for him?  Most I find are pretty "babyish" for him--in that he gets bored so fast with them.  I am willing to actually BUY apps (ha ha!) if I can find some that can be used on our old iPad.  I agree with Hive Mind Queen Bee, in that I'd rather invest in that than any other kind of Dynavox sort of device that has more limitations.  

Our son has random diagnoses--main one being FAS, but that doesn't really completely explain everything.  His birth parents were 12 and 14, and siblings who admitted to getting drunk about 5 times a week, and using street drugs.  He also has Rubinstein-Taybi.  He is unable to use a toilet--although with a LOT of prompting, he can sometimes squirt in there.  He has chronic constipation--he may not eliminate for 12 or 13 days (yes, he has been seen by every specialist, and all only recommend Miralax--which caused HUGE mania in him, and didn't work, anyway).  He began puberty at age 6 (he is 9 now).  He is likely to be ADHD and autistic, but who cares at this point?  But he is beautiful, and usually kind, and super stubborn to get his needs met, which I consider a huge benefit.  



#11 Moved On

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 01:03 PM

IJustGotHere, your last post touched my heart. Thank you for being there for your boy and for seeing how beautiful he is!
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#12 Lecka

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 02:34 PM

Our previous school district used boardmaker for PECS (I think).

The speech ap they used was proloquo2go (I think).

Do you think you might be able to get a consult with an AAC specialist? I don't know know exactly what they are called, but I wonder if there is any set-up for people from a city in your state to drive into the rural areas sometimes? There was some like this where I moved from, and there were Skype consultations available sometimes.

Edited by Lecka, 25 June 2017 - 02:35 PM.


#13 Lecka

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 02:49 PM

I think if you can get an AAC consult that person may have ideas for funding.

That person would hopefully have good suggestions, too!

#14 Daria

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 03:55 PM

He sounds like a wonderful young man!  I agree that the persistence and determination we call "stubbornness"  are great characteristics in the long term, even if they can be quite annoying in the moment.  

 

I'm sorry you had such a bad experience with AAC.  It sounds like you had a poor match between device and child, and also poor support.  There are absolutely AAC systems that can be used with kids who are preliterate.  Do you happen to know which version of Dynavox (V?, Maestro?, Xpress?), I can help you find out if there's something that might work that you could download.  However, AAC technology and language systems have improved so much in the past 5 years, that it might make more sense to get something for the iPad.

 

I also want to say that I think that ASL is a great choice for kids who have sufficient vision and motor skills.  However, most nonverbal kids, unless they are Deaf or being raised in Deaf households, will also benefit from some form of aided language.  Because aided language uses English words, and English word order, it can be easier for kids to make the connections that lead to reading and writing.  In addition, aided language is more universally understood because the output is English.  You can use an AAC device to order in a restaurant, or explain to a police officer that you're lost, or conduct a job interview.  In my opinion, if a child is using ASL, then aiming for bilingualism makes sense.  

 

If you're looking to add some kind of communication board or app to see how it might work, here are 2 things you might try:

 

1) Project Core: Has a universal core vocabulary that is a good fit. It's designed to be used on a board that a child points to.  Here's the website which has lots of good information.

 

http://www.project-c...t-project-core/

 

Here's the link to the actual communication boards.  It sounds like the single board with 36 symbols or the book with 9 symbols per page might work well, but there's a questionnaire that will help you choose the right one.

 

http://www.project-c...cation-systems/

 

2) Cough Drop: Is a high tech AAC program that you can use on an iPad.  It's not my first choice long term.  I prefer systems that come with robust vocabularies, and grammar systems.  However, Cough Drop is very customizable, and comes with a 2 month free trial.  So you could download it, see how he does with different button sizes, and what features work, and then use that information to guide you in choosing the right app.  Since the really good apps (Speak 4 Yourself, LAMP Words for Life, Proloquo2Go, and Compass with PODD are probably my top 4) each cost a few hundred dollars, it might be good to have more information before you invest.

The other app that I would suggest, for reading and writing rather than for communication, is Word Wizard, and app that lets you manipulate letter tiles that make sounds.  It can allow a nonverbal child to work with letters and sounds, and to experiment with blending, segmenting and manipulating sounds.  



#15 IJustGotHere

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 05:26 PM

Thanks for your suggestions, people!  I do appreciate it.

I have used the PECS for my other disabled child (who is NOT non-verbal, but very low-functioning autistic).  I like the idea--we even had them in the shower so that he could know the order of washing.  However, my concern with them is that they aren't always fast enough--and having to flip through boards to find the pictures to communicate more than just one word.  But I see they can be useful in some situations.

My friend is an ASL interpreter (and also adopted an older child--he was 11 and deaf.  He had received a cochlear implant while in the orphanage in south America, but money  was donated only to implant, and has never been "activated" (I sound dumb, but my point is that he has never used it to hear), and they had nobody who knew ASL or how to help him after it was implanted).  She has suggested to teach him sign language, but to understand that the ASL word order is different than English and doesn't use many of the words we use to complete sentences--it is based more on deducing what the "speaker" of the ASL meant by the way it was phrased.  So my son signs in ASL "speak", but understands complete phrasing of English language.  Am I making this understandable?  I think I use too many words and confuse things.  LOL.  

I appreciate the ideas.  I don't know anything about any AAC consultants helping us.  I believe the gal who sold us the Dynavox Maestro was from 2 hours away, and did this on the side because she was pregnant and not wanting to work full-time.  It felt actually kind of sketchy in retrospect.  Ha ha.  So to find a consult, would they only be people selling them?  I honestly prefer not to get another, but to maybe use apps on the PC or iPad.  

I will look into the suggestions you all offered.  It is nice to find helpful people here.  :)



#16 Lecka

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 05:50 PM

AAC consultants often are helping you pick what kind of iPad ap to get if an iPad ap is going to be helpful.

Like -- if he has the vocabulary and motor ability for an iPad to make sense, then it is a big decision to pick an ap (s) and then there are big decisions for how to set up the aps.

I feel like.... this is a government employer who can be requested by the school district or EI, and they drive in and have an appointment with you???

It is second-hand knowledge for me mostly, but I really think other kids at my son's special needs pre-school were having it arranged through the school, but with it being free to the school bc the consultant would come in from out of town.

My impression is there is a lot more now because they give it to more kids because of the iPads not being so expensive, so there is just better stuff for ACC.

To me -- I would call a speech therapist, an EI coordinator, etc, and try to get a name for an AAC consultant or how to get an appointment. Maybe try to get on an autism listserv or autism parent Facebook page, for a city in your state, and ask there, if maybe your local place is out-of-the-loop on it. But if you take them the information and it is something they can request -- they can request it for you.

But I know this works out differently in every state, which makes it hard.

The thing is too, ideally you would have a speech therapist who knows about this ap (whatever ap -- if that is suggested) bc they have to adjust it -- there is a lot of adjusting. So -- I do wonder if you could maybe find someone you drive to at first and then can consult with Skype? If it is something they have in your state.

It was a model for rural services where I used to live, and therapists in cities would offer "tele-health appointments." And then the library had "tele-health appointment rooms" set up, and I think maybe other places had them set up too, I just know about the library.

Maybe worth asking about.

Or -- you might find out they have webinars that you can watch and you can do it yourself more.

#17 Lecka

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 05:56 PM

I am not on the same Facebook pages I was on when my son was first diagnosed with autism, so I don't remember the names, but there are Facebook pages for some of the aps or for parents using AAC.

In general -- I hear if kids can be successful with an iPad, it is good bc they are a common item and you don't stick out with carrying one, plus it can encourage social interaction. But picking an ap ---- maybe a certain ap is recommended, or maybe for people at school (my kids are in school) to help they mainly know how to use a certain ap. So those are some considerations I have heard about.

Your son who uses some PECS -- honestly you might ask about it for him too. Sometimes there is funding for this stuff, or a grant. People who work with it more can know the options for your state if it might be possible for it to be paid for (or even partially paid for).

Edited by Lecka, 25 June 2017 - 05:57 PM.


#18 Daria

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 06:14 PM

Thanks for your suggestions, people!  I do appreciate it.

I have used the PECS for my other disabled child (who is NOT non-verbal, but very low-functioning autistic).  I like the idea--we even had them in the shower so that he could know the order of washing.  However, my concern with them is that they aren't always fast enough--and having to flip through boards to find the pictures to communicate more than just one word.  But I see they can be useful in some situations.

My friend is an ASL interpreter (and also adopted an older child--he was 11 and deaf.  He had received a cochlear implant while in the orphanage in south America, but money  was donated only to implant, and has never been "activated" (I sound dumb, but my point is that he has never used it to hear), and they had nobody who knew ASL or how to help him after it was implanted).  She has suggested to teach him sign language, but to understand that the ASL word order is different than English and doesn't use many of the words we use to complete sentences--it is based more on deducing what the "speaker" of the ASL meant by the way it was phrased.  So my son signs in ASL "speak", but understands complete phrasing of English language.  Am I making this understandable?  I think I use too many words and confuse things.  LOL.  

I appreciate the ideas.  I don't know anything about any AAC consultants helping us.  I believe the gal who sold us the Dynavox Maestro was from 2 hours away, and did this on the side because she was pregnant and not wanting to work full-time.  It felt actually kind of sketchy in retrospect.  Ha ha.  So to find a consult, would they only be people selling them?  I honestly prefer not to get another, but to maybe use apps on the PC or iPad.  

I will look into the suggestions you all offered.  It is nice to find helpful people here.   :)

 

PECS is a tool that's designed for people who struggle with communicative intent.  That doesn't sound like your son at all.  That doesn't mean that you can't use pictures for things like schedules, but the full PECS protocol where you put together a book and dig through it to find the picture is very slow and laborious.

 

Good AAC evaluators, who don't work for a specific company but will consider all options, can be hard to find.  If you message me where you live, I might be able to get you some names.  There are also a lot of people who go "rogue" and choose something themselves.  If you wanted to do that, I could probably help you find something.

 

Can you son manage small buttons on an iPad?  Can he find the icon of an app he wants, and press it accurately?  Could he press the button to take a photo with an iPhone?  Generally, with AAC, you want buttons that are as small as possible to allow quick access to the largest possible vocabulary.

 

The two options I gave you aren't what I'd suggest long term.  I suggested them because they're free and because I think they can help you figure out what works for your son.

 

I belong to pretty much all the AAC groups on Facebook, so if that's something that works for you, I can help you find people.



#19 Ottakee

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 09:53 AM

How is your regional special education program?  They could test him and might have a consultant that could help you with sign language, reading programs, technology options, etc.  There are many options out there to help with communication depending on his needs.

 

For reading, some have used the I See Sam books along with the letter tiles to help with spelling.  www.iseesam.com

 



#20 Daria

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 11:46 AM

IJustGotHere,

 

I realized that I never posted details about the program I use.  I'm happy to do so, but I also know I can be a little preachy when it comes to AAC and literacy, so I thought I'd wait and see if you wanted more information.  Let me know if you want details.  I'm happy to post.



#21 Lecka

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 11:51 AM

I looked at the Four Blocks and it made me feel better about what I am doing. I have felt a little stalled but I think we are doing good overall. I just get impatient......

#22 Melissa in Australia

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 04:31 AM

I take my hat off to you

I am completely shocked that he cannot get some sort of funding for speech therapy

#23 Ottakee

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 08:09 AM

I take my hat off to you

I am completely shocked that he cannot get some sort of funding for speech therapy

Most of the time in the US, speech therapy is handled through the schools for kids 3-21 (or 26).  You can rarely get insurance to pay for a limited amount but it is considered educational not medical so it is done through the schools.

In most states homeschooled students can get speech therapy through their local public schools even if they don't attend that school under an IEP.



#24 IJustGotHere

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 04:44 PM

Sorry it has been so long!
 

Our local district is really bad--we quit the speech they offered because it seemed only to frustrate us more.  We felt like we were having better results with medical speech therapy--but insurance quit paying when he didn't improve.  I have found the SLP we used before--now, she is almost an hour away--but said she could evaluate him and perhaps he would qualify for at least awhile.  Anyway, our school district kept suggesting our SLP was going about it the wrong way--and while he never learned to speak, we did find he tried harder with her methods (even at home), and he was more frustrated at the school.  The other thing was that at the school, they told us he should NOT be using an AAP of any kind at the other therapy--but were using it with him themselves.  They also said he should not get to use games to learn, but the day I quit taking him there, she was showing me the games she used for other kids to learn.  Really weird.  

We did purchase a new (cough, cough!!) iPad.  Need suggestions for what apps to add.  We cannot afford the expensive ones yet, but should be able to in a couple of months.  I have "Reading Really Rocks"--and while my ASL sign-language interpreter friend talked it up, I felt it was a bit "meh".  But, in the defense of the program, it might be my child isn't at the exact level of learning or intellect.  


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#25 Daria

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 06:04 PM

If you're interested in trying AAC with him, and you can't afford one of the higher cost apps, I'd think about Coughdrop, which is by subscription ($6 per month) but comes with a free 2 month trial.

 

I think about this board, as a starting place that's very research based.

 

https://www.mycoughd...ds-project-core

 

I'd watch the free PD on this website 

 

http://www.project-c...cation-systems/

 

for more information on how to use it.