If you’re following I-ASC on social media, you may have seen our new Trivia Tuesday posts, going back to basics and defining terms that have become so familiar to those of us who have been in the Spellerverse (the universe of all who spell and type to communicate) for a long time. The Spellerverse is expanding at a rapid rate, however, and there are so many out there who are new to terms like apraxia, CRP, and of course…Spelling to Communicate or S2C itself!
I wanted to include a speller perspective as well, so as you read this blog, you’ll get the chance to hear from Ian Nordling, a fluent speller, to get his perspective on the methodology as well!
S2C stands for Spelling to Communicate, but what does that mean, exactly? Spelling to Communicate teaches individuals with motor challenges the purposeful motor skills necessary to point to letters to spell as an alternative means of communication. Did I lose you at purposeful motor? Purposeful motor means that you’re THINKING about something and doing it. Think back to when you first got in a car or WAY back to when you first learned to walk – you had to think about it! Now, for most of us, both walking and driving are automatic, and with practice, the purposeful motor of spelling accurately on a letterboard becomes automatic as well!
Kelly: Ian, what can you tell me about your experience learning to spell to communicate?
Ian: HAVING SOMEONE FINALLY RECOGNIZE THAT MY INABILITY TO SPEAK WAS BECAUSE OF MOTOR DIFFERENCES AND NOT DUE TO AN ABSENCE OF LANGUAGE WAS MY LIFELONG DREAM COME TRUE! IT TOOK SOMEONE TAKING THE TIME TO REALLY BREAK DOWN THE MOTOR TO ALLOW ME TO BE ABLE TO PROVE MY INTELLIGENCE AND THAT I HAD ALWAYS UNDERSTOOD EVERYTHING!
Our goal is to help our spellers achieve synchrony between their brain and their body. Skilled and rigorously trained S2C Practitioners will work with your speller to teach the purposeful motor skills of pointing accurately at a letterboard using a hierarchy of verbal and gestural prompts that will be faded over time as accuracy improves. The difference in S2C is that we are addressing MOTOR differences that affect an individual’s ability to communicate. All COMMUNICATION requires motor!
Language is the rule-based system for understanding and representing thoughts and ideas. Language is COGNITIVE. Speech is the physical production of our expressive language and requires MOTOR. Imagine sitting in on a lecture at a conference. It’s inappropriate to speak during the presentation. However, as you sit there and listen, you not only understand everything the presenter is saying (receptive language), but you also have thoughts and opinions in your head about the content being presented (expressive language). Not being able to speak does not affect your ability to understand and think! Speech and language are two completely different processes.
Kelly: Ian, what would you like to add here?
IAN: IF YOU ARE READING THIS AND THINKING, “NOT MY KID,” I WANT READERS TO KNOW THAT YOUR KID CAN DO THIS TOO! THE METHOD WORKS AT DIFFERENT SPEEDS FOR DIFFERENT INDIVIDUALS, BUT IT WORKS FOR EVERYONE WHO HAS APRAXIA OR A MOTOR DIFFERENCE!
In S2C, teaching and motor practice center around engaging cognitive lessons. We feed the brain with interesting and captivating information, which can help to regulate the body! The motor skills that your speller will develop progress along an increasingly complex hierarchy from pointing to letters on three boards (with 8 – 9 letters per board) to all 26 letters on one board to a laminated alphabet board, held keyboard, and independent typing on a keyboard. Communication will move from concrete to abstract as your speller’s motor skills progress. With time and practice, accuracy is developed, and open, fluent communication is achieved, giving your speller autonomy and allowing the world to get to know who your speller is as an individual!
Kelly: Tell me how your life has changed since you became able to spell to communicate.
IAN: DEPENDING ON THE SITUATION, I AM ABLE TO MAKE THE MOST BASIC DECISIONS ABOUT MY LIFE TO BIGGER DECISIONS LIKE CONVINCING MY FAMILY TO MOVE BACK TO HERNDON TO BE CLOSER TO GROWING KIDS THERAPY CENTER SO I COULD HAVE A COMMUNITY OF NONSPEAKING FRIENDS. HAVING THE ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE IS THE BEST THING ONE CAN HAVE, AND I WANT THAT FOR EVERY NONSPEAKER IN THE WORLD!
Ian has been Spelling to Communicate since 2014. He loves to learn, has a strong work ethic, and is a passionate self-advocate. Ian has taken part in coursework at The University of Virginia as well as George Washington University. He seizes any opportunity to further his education and continues to feed his hunger for knowledge by taking courses at GKTC and online.
Ian is a founding member of I&I guys, a small business and self-advocacy group, where he oversees production and serves as the community liaison. He recently served on the Town of Herndon’s ‘Youth Advisory Council’, alongside his neurotypical peers. He also worked alongside local law enforcement, first responders, and community officials to provide them with a pamphlet guideline on how to interact with autistics. Ian is passionate about inclusion and acceptance, as well as access to meaningful communication.
Kelly Berg is the Lead S2C Practitioner at Growing Kids Therapy Center, as well as a member of the Leadership Cadre at the International Association for Spelling as Communication. She truly loves talking about S2C, so shoot her an email at email@example.com if you have any questions!