Monday, August 10, 2015

Is Aided Language Stimulation Different than AAC Modeling?

In a previous post, I discussed the strategy of conducting an Animated Step-by-Step™ activity such as Banana-Berry Shakes across two consecutive days. Day one is conducted as a literacy activity with the additional benefit of introducing the event sequence and the symbols that will be necessary for Day 2. Day two is devoted exclusively to communication training. A communication display (simple or complex depending upon need) is projected on the Interactive Whiteboard and is used by the Primary Facilitator (person leading the group) to conduct Aided Language Stimulation (ALgS).

By definition, Aided Language Stimulation is a clinical strategy in which the Facilitator highlights symbols in conjunction with her ongoing verbal language stimulation.  ‘Highlighting’ can be achieved in numerous ways: pointing to symbols, shining a light on symbols or showing hand-held symbols.  At this point in the discussion, you are probably wondering what is the difference between ALgS and just plain AAC modeling?

I think of Aided Language Stimulation as being a sub component of overall modeling. If you view the modeling of symbols as a continuum reflecting occasional modeled use (on the left) to frequent and/or complete modeled use (on the right), Aided Language Stimulation would be positioned toward the right on this continuum.

Even within ALgS, there is a continuum of use.  On the far left we have ALgS that highlights just the main content words e.g., ANDREA is POURing the MILK  INTO our BLENDER.  On the far right we have ALgS that models both content, function words, and word endings (a, the, possessive ’s, plural s, -ing, -ed, pronouns etc.) e.g.,  “ANDREA … IS … POUR … ING … THE … MILK … IN … TO …. OUR … BLENDER.” Obviously, the former would be used with students that are cognitively young and/or students with significant comprehension issues while the more complex version might be introduced with students who are functioning at a higher level linguistically.

The complexity of your ALgS will also depend upon the situation. If performing ALgS in a conversational exchange you might use less complex modeling in an attempt to ensure more efficient conversational exchange. When conducting a lesson (recipe, craft, science project) where your primary focus is modeling the use of language (information that you hope will ultimately be reflected in their writing ability) greater levels of complexity may be in order. 

It is important to note that ALgS is not just a matter of pointing out symbols as you provide verbal language stimulation. The Primary Facilitator also needs to create communication opportunities throughout the group activity … opportunities that the Secondary Facilitators help their assigned students, recognize and capitalize on using their AAC communication systems.  The Shadow Light Cuing hierarchy is an excellent strategy for helping students recognize communicative opportunities while unobtrusively guiding students toward proficient use of their AAC systems. Shadow Light Cuing will be the topic of the next post!

 … ’til the next post … (new posts every Monday; consider becoming a follower of my blog)

© 2015 Carol Goossens', Ph.D.
Augmentative Communication Specialist
Speech-Language Pathologist
Special Educator