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Grow Language in the Summer Sun: AAC Implementation Activities

As the summer begins, it is essential to ensure that individuals with complex communication needs continue to have opportunities for fostering their communication and language skills. AAC implementation activities can be both fun and beneficial, fostering skills in natural and engaging contexts.

In fact, ASHA designates naturalistic environments as the optimal location for AAC implementation efforts to take place in to maximize generalization and functional use of the AAC system (ASHA, n.d.). You cannot get a more natural environment than the summery outdoors!


Goals and activities that have built the communication skills of those with complex communication needs throughout the academic year are often forgotten amid summer relaxation and activities.


But need not that be true! What if infusing one engaging language activity into your existing routines and summer traditions could prevent skills from wilting while growing language? Need it to be even simpler? Forbes AAC has you covered!


Activity 1: Picnic


  • Picnics provide a perfect setting to engage in social interactions. Encourage individuals with complex communication needs to bring their AAC devices or light-tech boards to the picnic. Incorporate activities such as "I Spy" or describing the tastes and textures of different foods.


Activity 2: Beach or Pool Day


  • Heading to the beach or pool offers many sensory experiences, and communication should be no exception. Create portable element proof light-tech AAC tools. Individuals with complex communication needs can use such AAC tools to express their preferences, describe their surroundings, or engage in social interactions with peers.

  • Check out ideas for waterproof and element-proof light-tech AAC tools here! AAC in the Water (forbesaac.com)


Activity 3: Outdoor Scavenger Hunt


  • Plan an outdoor scavenger hunt. Create a list of items or clues and participants can work individually or in teams to find the items. Individuals can talk about their discoveries.

  • This activity promotes language development, problem-solving skills, and social interaction in a dynamic and engaging environment.


Activity 4: Garden Storytelling


  • Engage those with complex communication needs in gardening while fostering communication skills. Planting flowers or vegetables provides opportunities for individuals to request tools, describe the actions they are performing, and express preferences for plants or gardening tasks. Afterward, support them in creating an electronic or physical storybook using their AAC devices, recounting their gardening adventures with pictures and text.


Activity 5: Outdoor Movie Nights


  • Host outdoor movie nights where individuals can enjoy films under the stars with friends and family. Implement descriptive teaching to talk about the movie, including characters' names, actions, and emotions. Encourage individuals to comment on the movie, ask questions, or participate in interactive elements using their AAC systems.

  • This inclusive activity promotes social skill and language development in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.

  • Check out this resource from Forbes AAC on Descriptive Teaching: What, Why, and How!

Seeing AAC device screens while in the sun can be a challenge. The sunlight is often brighter than the screen. Thus, the sunlight washes out the screen brightness causing individuals who use AAC to be unable to see the screen.



Remember that those with complex communication needs are to have the skills to fulfill all four of the communicative functions, which are expressing wants and needs, transferring information, establishing and maintaining social closeness (i.e., interpersonal relationships), and displaying appropriate social etiquette (e.g., greetings, closers, maintaining conversations, etc.) (Beukelman & Light, 2020).


  • Summer is much more fun when doing so with siblings and/or friends AND it facilitates engaging, meaningful, and motivating social communication opportunities, so involve the individual’s sibling(s) and/or friends in your summer activities!

  • It is important to pause the action for a few seconds to provide the individual with complex communication needs with a chance to generate utterances on their AAC system and join the communication fun. Communication partners should model relevant language and communication functions when appropriate to facilitate language and communication skill growth.


Summer presents many opportunities to engage in meaningful communication while having fun in the warmth and beauty of the outdoors. By incorporating AAC tools and implementation strategies into summer adventures, individuals with complex communication needs can enhance their language and communication skills, foster social connections, and actively engage in summer fun.


  • Whether it is picnics, beach days, pool days, scavenger hunts, gardening, or outdoor movie nights, there are endless opportunities to grow language and communication skills in the summer sun.


References



Hannah Foley, B.A. serves as the Support and Implementation Specialist at Forbes AAC, leveraging more than five years of experience in AAC support and implementation. Committed to delivering quality implementation resources and support, Hannah focuses on empowering AAC teams who are implementing CoughDrop. She is dedicated to ensuring successful integration of AAC into various life activities, maximizing communicative skill development, and fostering meaningful engagement for individuals utilizing AAC.


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