Resource Round-up: Supporting Communication

The way we use language and communicate significantly shapes how we engage with learning. Some students may experience difficulty understanding certain concepts, while others may use alternatives to speech.

If you support students who have communication difficulties, or you would just like to learn more, some new resources provide background information and examples of support strategies.

The Hello campaign marks 2011 as the national year of communication. Hello is a campaign to increase understanding of how important it is for young people to develop good communication skills.

A number of resources have been made available on the Hello website. While the focus is often on children, many of the resources have relevance to those working with school leavers.

Don’t Get Me Wrong provides some background on a range of difficulties with communication. While including overviews of the potential impact of autism, dyspraxia, physical and learning disabilities, the resource crucially highlights the unreliability of using a diagnosis in predicting language difficulties.

In line with an inclusive approach, the resource highlights the value in investigating the needs of the individual. The third section of the resource contains useful tips for providing practical support. A checklist at the end may be helpful to practitioners in identifying language and communication support needs.

Other Ways of Speaking covers Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) techniques used by people who have difficulty producing speech. The resource explains what is meant by aided, unaided, low tech and high tech AAC. Case studies and tips for supporting and communicating with someone who uses AAC are also included.

Communication and students with complex needs

Students who have difficulty with language and communication sometimes have other needs with which they require a high level of support. When this happens, the person’s needs are often referred to as “profound and complex” (PCN).

The Profound and Complex Needs Team at Scotland’s Colleges produces a newsletter containing lots of practical tips and examples of good practice.

On the PCN news page, as well as back issues of the newsletter, you’ll find information about staff development events. You’ll also see information about the transitions resource, TRiP, on which BRITE collaborated.

The next PCN Team event is Effective Methods of Learner Engagement for Students with Complex Communication Support Needs on Thursday 06 October 2011. 

Those who wish to deepen their knowledge of communication techniques used by people with PCN, might have a look at the Mencap/MMU report Communication and people with the most complex needs: what works and why this is essential.  The report investigates the effectiveness of a range of methods and concludes with recommendations including the need for more training and sharing of good practice.

Interestingly, while we often think of AAC as high tech systems, the report highlights the widespread use of the lower tech options such as communication passports. CALL Scotland is a good source of information about Communication Passports, visit the CALL website for more information.

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