S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM

If there is a silver lining to COVID, it is that it opened up a lot of opportunities to participate in long-distance, virtual learning for both individual S2C sessions and groups.  The beauty of groups is that spellers get to learn with peers, engage in discussions, form friendships, and have FUN!  Today’s guest contributor, Caden Rainey, has written about his best friend, Joel, and how they formed a deep friendship online.  Virtual learning goes a long way to making content accessible but it has its challenges too.  Today, I discussed these challenges with my good friend and virtual students, Caden and his mom, and CRP, Jen. 

Kelly: Tell me about your virtual group experience? 

CADEN: I THINK A LOT STARTS WITH A PERSON’S CRP. 

Kelly: What’s your top tip to CRPs for virtual success? 

CADEN: STAY PATIENT. 

Kelly: Who should stay patient? 

CADEN: ALL OF US.  START WITH SOMEONE YOU TRUST.  START WITH PEOPLE YOU TRUST AS (communication) PARTNERS. 

Kelly: What can a Practitioner or teacher do to make a virtual session feel more engaging to you? 

CADEN: STAY KIND OF PERKY. IT MAKES IT EASIER TO TUNE IN WHEN SOMEONE IS ENTHUSIASTIC. STAY INTERESTED IN THE OTHER STUFF TOO. THE STUFF PEOPLE ADD TO THE CONVERSATION. LIKE MY PUNS. 

Kelly: Your puns are my favorite, Caden! I could never not stay interested in them! 

Kelly: What can we do as practitioners, across the video screen, to help with your regulation? 

CADEN: REGULATION IS MORE PERSONAL I THINK. STAYING ON SCREEN HELPS ME. (Who staying on screen?) THE TEACHER. SOMETIMES THE SCREEN IS TOO SMALL WHEN THERE IS A PICTURE

Jen clarified, “when Kelly is small because she has shared her screen”?  

CADEN: YES

Kelly: How do you feel about visuals (photos and videos) in a virtual session? 

CADEN: IT’S SORT OF HARD TO WATCH.

Kelly: Yes, I think this is true for some spellers.  Others tell us this is helpful.  Everyone learns so differently so the challenge is in accommodating everyone’s learning needs. Often, even in an in-person group, we as CRPs are often prompting the eyes of our spellers to look at the video that we are playing. 

Kelly: What can your CRP do to help you in person?

CADEN: MAYBE MORE PROMPTS. YOU ARE PRETTY GOOD AT PROMPTING MY EYES (to Mom)

Jen talked about setting up a projector to show it on a wall. She added it is helpful to familiarize yourself with Zoom as much as possible before you get into a group.  This way you are comfortable with the technology before you need to help your speller navigate and regulate. It can be hard to be regulated when the technology is new and confusing. 

Kelly: When you’re in a group, how do you feel about back and forth discussions with your peers? 

CADEN: I LIKE TO STAY ON TOPIC BUT ALSO HAVE SPACE TO PLAY

Kelly: What benefit does that space to play provide to you?

CADEN: TO CONNECT WITH MY FRIENDS ON ALL LEVELS.

Jen commented, “he enjoys it, doesn’t go so far off track. When it happens the teacher brings it back to the main topic. It’s important, that socialization piece. The lesson, the group is important, but that piece is a really valuable part of the experience for both me and Caden. We enjoy getting to know the other kids and the parents and connecting on a personal level.”

Kelly: What else? 

CADEN: REALLY PUT PEOPLE INTO A RELAXED PLACE BY BEING RELAXED YOURSELF

Kelly: Caden, I’m trying really hard to do that now myself, while getting used to having a group that has both in-person and virtual students! So I appreciate this reminder!

CADEN: REALLY NICE JOB I THINK 

Kelly: What about body engagers? 

CADEN: WE ARE NOT SO GOOD AT THOSE YET.

Jen added, “fidgets, something to meet a sensory need is really helpful. Caden has a basket of different fidget types in case his body needs it.”  Some spellers find fidgets to be very helpful, others find it distracting.  Many spellers use body engagers to keep their hands and body engaged in a purposeful activity that is not so challenging that it distracts them from the learning. 

As a veteran online CRP for Caden, Jen suggested that setting up your environment for virtual learning is also important. “As a parent, trying to minimize distractions at home, try to get in a room on your own…sometimes the cats are running around or the family is in and out of the room and it could be a distraction! Set up your environment to be conducive for a lesson.”

I am so grateful to Caden and Jen for their expertise and sharing their experiences to make online learning more successful.  Everyone has various needs and supports that will make the online experience work for them.  We’d love to hear your comments, tips, and suggestions for making virtual learning and groups work for you! 

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPMKelly Berg is an S2C Practitioner at Growing Kids Therapy Center and a member of the I-ASC Leadership Cadre living in Herndon, Virginia. She LOVES working virtually with spellers in groups and individually, and can’t wait to meet those spellers in person someday!

 

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPMCaden Rainey –  Super speller, advocate and virtual learner! 

 

 

The mission of I-ASC is to advance communication access for nonspeaking individuals globally through trainingeducationadvocacy and research I-ASC supports all forms of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) with a focus on methods of spelling and typing. I-ASC currently offers Practitioner training in Spelling to Communicate (S2C)with the hope that other methods of AAC using spelling or typing will join our association

Posted By on Wednesday, October 6th, 2021 in Autism,Community,Families,Nonspeakers,S2C,Spelling to Communicate

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