In my postings of June 25 and June 29, 2016, I told the story of Velma and her journey of learning how to model on an AAC system. When I last wrote, Velma was in week six of a ten-week plan. She was on the home stretch to becoming America’s Next Top Modeler.
Velma got a little sidetracked in weeks seven to ten. I was gone for 3 of those 4 weeks, she took some time off, the client’s device had some operational issues, and the dog ate the visual supports I made (well… not that last one, but they went missing.)
On the up side, Velma had developed sufficient skills and learned enough vocabulary in order to be a competent vocabulary modeler on the Unity144 program, even without the visual supports. Even though she lost the scripts and didn’t have the visual supports, I could glean the gist of the conversations she was having with the client (and her modeling) by reviewing data from the Language Activity Monitor.
On August 23rd, we finally had our party to celebrate Velma’s accomplishments. After being “crowned” America’s Newest Next Top Modeler, she summarized what she learned from this experience.
- It’s not right to say to a client, “use your device,” if you can’t use it yourself.
- Model something on the device everyday, starting with things that only take a minute or two.
- You aren’t going to learn how to talk with the device unless you do it over and over and over. Don’t get discouraged.
- Some modeling is always better than no modeling; while more modeling is the best.
- The 10-week plan (made by Gail) was helpful because every week there was something new to work on together.
- Use reminders (e.g., sticky note on the door to the client’s bedroom, alert on your phone, etc.) to remember to work on your modeling goal for the day or week.
- Get a “modeling buddy” who will help you stick to your plan.
- Use vocabulary cheat sheets to practice finding the vocabulary until you don’t need them anymore.
- Laugh when you make mistakes, especially when you say a word that is really embarrassing.
- If you find yourself spelling a word over and over (because it is not pre-programmed in the device), get it added to the device. If you need the word, the client (who is not a competent speller) may also need it.
Thank you Velma for those words of wisdom!
Wear your crown proudly!