Getting started with Spelling to Communicate (S2C) can feel like a daunting and overwhelming task if it is something completely new to you. We, the S2C Practitioners, are here to help. The goal is for you to always feel supported. This could be through seeing a Practitioner in your area regularly, traveling to one for an out of town visit, or receiving support virtually from a seasoned Practitioner. If you are not sure if there is one near you, check out this Practitioner Location Map that I-ASC provides: https://i-asc.org/s2c-practitioner-location-map/. You can receive training to be your Speller’s Communication and Regulation Partner (CRP) – that is the person that holds the boards and provides regulation while spelling.
Maybe you have a Practitioner in your area that can offer continuous support and maybe you don’t but these tips can help you get started with your Speller at home.
First, what you will need:
- Your letterboards – a Practitioner will recommend either the stencil boards (the standard) or the sensory boards (a special adaptation)
- Every new CRP will always start on the 3 boards
- A lesson* – you will always want to use a new one to keep your Speller engaged
- Pencils – best to have multiple handy just in case
- Paper – for your transcripts and keywords
Second, how it will go:
- You will read a paragraph from the lesson and when you come across words in all CAPS, those words will be your keywords that you spell outloud and write on your keyword sheet in front of the Speller. These words are often proper nouns, new vocabulary words, or key points in the lesson.
- Now it is time to get started spelling!
- When your Speller is brand new to this, you will warm up with Spell Only words. These are the words listed just under the paragraph that you read.
- Then you will move onto the known questions – there is only one possible answer that both you and your Speller know the answer to.
- These are color coded in green or noted with a K.
- You will provide prompting** for your speller to help them be successful as they are building neuronal pathways to gain automaticity to the correct letters. I promise that your speller will not become prompt dependent. Here are the types and examples of prompts to use (this list is not exhaustive).
- Initiation prompts:
- Get it
- Ready go
- Poke it
- Continuation prompts (used in between letters):
- After [letter] is…
- Next letter is…
- Eye prompts:
- Eyes on it
- Look for it
- Shift your eyes
- Scan the board
- Look, look, look
- Directional prompts:
- Top/bottom corner
- All the way (far side) or towards me
- Jump up/down
- Big jump
- Gestural prompts: gesturing in the direction of the letter but not pointing directly at it. This helps the eyes move in the direction that they need to go.
Please know that this is challenging for every new CRP. As Practitioner Kelly Berg always says, “if it doesn’t feel clunky the first time you do it, you are not doing it right”. You are learning alongside your speller. It is a lot to juggle all at the same time but you can do this. I always suggest to new CRPs that I am training to give yourself some grace. You will get there, no one is good at anything when they first start, it takes time and practice!
*Where can you find a lesson to use?
- I-ASC provides some free lessons: https://i-asc.org/lessons-for-families/
- GKTC sells lesson workbooks: https://growingkidstherapy.com/shop/
- Speller’s Learn sells lessons individually: https://spellerslearn.com
**Please note that initiation, continuation, and eye prompts can be used forever without influencing. Directional and gestural prompts will need to be completely faded before becoming fluent with your speller.
Katlyn Billue is an S2C Practitioner, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, and Mentor for I-ASC. She loves teaching new CRPs, the more CRPs a Speller has, the better!