The technique I use most with Kendal is Aided Language Input. Very simply stated, I use Kendal's device, the NovaChat 10, to talk to him. The visual symbols paired with my (Charlie Brown teacher) speech help Kendal understand me so that he can participate in our conversations. I touch symbols on his device which correspond to the words I'm saying. The value of aided language input is that Kendal is able to see someone communicate the same way he does. He has a model for how aided communication works. There is no pressure for him to imitate my model. If he wants to participate, awesome! If he just wants to listen, that's okay too. Either way Kendal is learning language and building relationships. Kendal's mom is amazing and she uses this technique as much as possible at home and in the community. Kendal seems calmer and happier as a result of his improved understanding and ability to offer his own opinions. He's found a great deal of satisfaction in being able to tell us about the other people in his lives and their ups and downs in caring for him. We've also seen an increase in Kendal's understanding of our words. He's responding more and more to our verbal language.
You'll see in our video that Kendal pays close attention to my symbol selection and then reads the message window text. He obviously understands and "gets" my jokes as we take turns talking. Since Kendal primarily communicates using 1-2 symbols per message, I used to simplify my messages to just a few symbols per statement. Now I use 4-7 symbols per statement because he's shown me he understands. There are some really wonderful resources on the internet to explain how Aided Language Input works. Here's a great compilation from PrAACtical AAC: http://praacticalaac.org/tag/aided-language-input/
We thought we'd just show you!