Deanna Wagner is today's #TotalTalkTuesday Guest!

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This week's #TotalTalkTuesdayTip is from Deanna Wagner. 

Deanna Wagner, MS/CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist with over 20 years experience providing consultations and training in the area of assistive technology with an emphasis on augmentative communication. She works with educators and families to achieve goals in the area of selection and implementation. Deanna’s work with the AT programs at Southwest Human Development and TherapyOne includes augmentative communication device evaluations, communication device training, literacy education support, and community outreach for alternative and augmentative communication device users.


DON'T FORGET THE ROLE OF THE COMMUNICATION PARTNER!

As a speech language pathologist who works with both students and adults with complex communication challenges, I take my responsibility for teaching social interactions very seriously. The AAC user, the conversational partner, and the person who is prompting/facilitating need to be very aware of their roles.  Using an AAC device can be awkward, and learning to socially engage others can be difficult if one focuses first on looking at the device and looking at the other person as an after-thought. Being aware of the communication partner when initiating conversations, turn-taking, commenting, and closing conversations are all critical social skills.

Additionally, all AAC users feel better about themselves when they can make somebody laugh. To that end, we have carefully studied tips on sequenced social scripts by Caroline Musselwhite and Linda Burkhart over the years. In August, 2007, we collaborated on tech tips for communication scripts/stories on multiple devices (www.aacintervention.com). This strategy teaches our AAC users to move from one message to the next, either by pushing the same button or by moving from left to right across the screen.  Scripts are used to provide multiple turns and structure the conversation to include messages that initiate, comment, and close.

Both the AAC user and the communication partner may need cues in order to instinctually respond in natural ways. In AAC, it can be pretty disappointing when the punch-line is not delivered at the right time and the entire joke lands flat.  


TOTAL TALK TAKES BEING FUNNY SERIOUSLY.

Total Talk’s Joke Pages offer a solution to bad deliveries (and also bad jokes!). The joke page takes advantage of opening and closing lines, and also offers flexibility to repeat the first part (or the punchline) as many times as needed. The lines that have already been spoken dim out, so the user is aware of where he/she left off. Instead of providing only a rigid structure, Total Talk lets you really control your joke telling and build a more gratifying exchange.

 

 

VISUAL CUES HELP BRING COMMUNICATION PARTNERS CLOSER.

With Tele-Prompt we now have the tool we need to help our AAC user wait for a visual cue (or even a text) before going to the next message.  As the facilitator, I can now become as invisible as I always wanted to be.

Total Talk Orbit is a free companion app that connects through Bluetooth (so you don’t have to worry about blocked or poor WiFi connections) that you can use without intruding upon the user’s personal space, using your iPhone to prompt from across the room!

The overall experience is very typical… a person using AAC asks a question, waits for the partner to say something, then responds with the punchline.  We can use tele-prompting to encourage activation of a recorded laugh track (or rimshot).  At the end of the joke, we have historically used one message to guide an AAC user to finish the interaction.  With tele-prompting, we can circle a few options for the user to choose from, giving more flexibility for ending the joke or managing the conversation.

In sum, when facilitating interactions, remember to keep the needs of both communication partners in mind.  Everybody needs to enjoy the conversation.  Over-cueing joke telling can be horribly awkward, to say the least.  If you remember to monitor the level of supports and cues, you’ll find that you’re not only growing communication skills, but also the number of people who enjoy interacting!

Thank you TotalTalk for providing the tools we were missing to finally achieve successful timing of jokes with our AAC users.  I love Tele-Prompts!

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