The form can be transmitted with any symbol system (sign language, picture representations, icons, writing or speech). Another example of syntax is combining a word (dog) and then changing the meaning by adding another word (barking dog, big dog, friendly dog).This is an area often neglected when teaching AAC.
You do not necessarily need to start with objects when teaching communication skills!
Normal developing communication (which is DIFFERENT from symbol representation):
Gestures with an object in context
- Holding an empty cup out to an adult with a milk carton to request something to drink or pushing a plate with vegetables away to reject something.
- While playing with blocks, holds a block out to the adult to request help to build.
- Brings a book to an adult to request read.
Gestures without an object
- Points to objects to request.
- Holds hand out with palm up to request what other person has.
- In addition to a photograph, another technique is to cut out around the object which will give the shape information, usually referred to as TOBIs (True Object Based Icons).
This includes clipart and cartoon drawing.
Formal sign language or approximations
Uses verbal words to communicate meaning.
This is not necessarily the order we use for symbol representation. The development of communication and the understanding of symbol representation are two DIFFERENT skills.
When you are introducing pictures for communication, use graphics that the child understands. Picture communication symbols from BoardMaker may not be the best place to start. Young children are unable to read and if the printed word is not under the BoardMaker symbol, then it is difficult to determine what the picture represents. For example, here are three pictures. Which ones do you understand best?