In my last blog posting (June 25, 2016; “Seeing is Believing”) I told the story of the caregiver (I’ll call her Velma) who saw me doing modeling with a client and wanted to learn how to do that.   We collaborated to make a plan for learning how to model and wrote it out on a poster board, entitled “Becoming America’s Next Top Modeler.” Our 10-week plan is simple.   We picked out 10 activities that will take 15 minutes or less time. They are the kinds of things that the caregivers normally do with their clients.  We “scripted” out each activity and came up with things she could say.  As her “coach,” I made the visual support materials that she needed to select the Minspeak icon sequence for each word.  To start, all she had to do was match pictures and she was modeling.

Week One: Be Friendly (Every day, ask two or more questions; and give at least 1 compliment.)

  • Questions:
  1. How are you doing?
  2. How are you feeling today?
  3. How was your night?
  4. What are your plans for the day?
  5. What can I do for you today?
  6. What’s new with you?
  • Compliments:
  1. How look full of life today.
  2. How look very good today.
  3. I like talking with you.
  4. You are the favorite part of my day.
  5. It always makes me happy to see you.

Week Two: Keep Him/Her Talking (Have client pick a topic to talk about. You make comments or ask questions to keep the conversation going.)

  • Comments:
  1. That is interesting.
  2. That’s cool/exciting/sad/good/bad.
  3. Tell me more about that.
  4. I don’t understand.
  • Questions:
  1. Who are you talking about?
  2. When did it happen?
  3. Where were you?
  4. How come?
  5. Why?

Week Three: Family Talk (Use the script to ask questions about his/her family.)

Week Four: Read the Newspaper (Use the script for newspaper reading.)

Week Five: Check Email (Use the script to help the client check his/her email.)

Week Six: Make a To Do List (Use the script to talk about things client needs people to do for him/her.)

Week Seven: Tell a Life Story 1 (Ask the client to tell a story from his/her childhood. Use the script to ask life story questions.)

Week Eight: Tell A Life Story 2 (You tell the client a story about your life. Use the “I Have A Story to Tell You” script with lead-in phrases.)

Week Nine: YouTube Time (Watch a YouTube video. Use the Video Watching script.)

Week Ten: Party Time! (Talk about Becoming America’s Next Top Modeler, what you learned, and how helpful it was to the client. Celebrate your success. Count the words you know how to say without a script!)

Velma is doing pretty well on her journey to becoming America’s Next Top Modeler. Initially, she was incredibly nervous about touching the device and embarrassed when she couldn’t match the pictures from the visual supports to the pictures on the Unity144 program. But, after a couple of days, she overcame her nerves and knew the location of all the pictures. By Thursday of most weeks, she doesn’t need the visual support materials any longer to model the scripted questions or statements. By week four, she was starting to deviate from the scripts because she had learned enough words to be independently generative. For example, once she knew how to say all the /wh/ words, she could start asking new questions, using at least a /wh/ word in the beginning.

I’ve been gone for three weeks. When I get back to Florida, I hope Velma has finished weeks seven, eight, and nine.   Our plans are to have a celebration party together in Week Ten so that I can crown her (LITERALLY), America’s Next Top Modeler.