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Prevent The Avalanche of Regression

Life looks very different over holiday breaks than it does when school is in session. Relaxation, lack of structure, and holiday festivities replace formal learning and structured activities, which can result in regression, especially for individuals with complex communication needs. Goals and activities that have built the communication skills throughout the academic year are often forgotten in the midst of holiday festivities and activities.


But need not that be true! What if infusing one highly engaging language activity into your existing routines and holiday traditions could prevent the avalanche of regression and jumpstart learning? Need it to be even simpler? Forbes AAC has you covered!

Join us for eight engaging activities to keep communication and language skills growing AND keep AAC implementation fun for all. The activities are quick, simple, and FREE to implement from the comfort of home and community at any time of the day (or night!).

  • No need to come up with extravagant activities to target communication and language development. No need to dedicate time and energy out of your day to planning and executing activities that target communication and language development that your communicator might engage with.

Activity 1: Initiate physical movement using the core word "go"

  • Use “go” to initiate going down the sledding hill (“go fast”, “go down”, “go more”), to go for a car ride to see all of the Christmas lights and decorations in the neighborhood and community (“go see”, “go look”, “go in the car”, “go for a ride”), or to go to the communicator's favorite place (“go shopping”, “go to the movie theater”, etc.).

Activity 2: Request to watch a video using the core word "on"

  • Use “on” to initiate the playing of the communicator's favorite holiday movie, show, or YouTube video and pause it every few minutes to comment about what's happening OR play a Netflix series the communicator likes. Once Netflix asks if you are still watching, wait until they initiate the request to continue watching. Wait to press play until they initiate the request with “on” or “turn on”.

Activity 3: Request another object and/or activity using the core word "different"

  • Use “different” to request to play with another toy, game, or participate in another activity than what the communicator is currently engaged in (“want different”, “want different [object or activity]”, “can I have different?”, “can I have a different [object or activity]?”). To create communication opportunities, give the communicator an activity, show/movie, food, or toy/object that the communicator does not like so that they are motivated to initiate communication to get something that they like.

Activity 4: Initiate and respond to social greetings using the core word "hello"

  • Use “hello” to greet friends the communicator sees out and about in the community (e.g. the grocery store, mall, sledding hill, etc.). Family holiday parties are also a great opportunity for the communicator to practice initiating and responding to social social greetings with familiar communication partners.

Activity 5: Write a short story about holiday traditions using the core word "see"

  • Use “see” to write (and talk) about the communicator's holiday traditions (“I see grandma/grandpa”, “I see aunt, uncle, cousins”, “I see lights”, “I see Santa”, etc.). You may save the story in the communicator's AAC system so that they can tell their peers and teachers about their winter break when they go back to school in January.

Activity 6: Inquire and explore why certain things occur (e.g. why it snows) throughout the week using the core word "why"

  • Use “why” to explore the reasoning behind why specific things happen specifically in the winter (why it snows, why water turns to ice (freezes), why ice is slippery, etc.). Perhaps do a science experiment to create fun opportunities to use language! You may also model use of the word “because” to further expand the communicator's language.

Activity 7: Initiate questions about the location of a needed or highly preferred item using the core word "where"

  • Use “where” to discover the location of something that the communicator needs or wants (“where is it?”, “where is [item?]”). To create communication opportunities, internationally place a needed or wanted item where the communicator will not be able to see or find it easily. Wait until they initiate communication to help them find the item.

Activity 8: Prepare a holiday baked good of preference or choice using the core word "need"

  • Use “need” to help prepare a delicious holiday baked good. Gather ingredients (“need milk”, “need eggs”, “need chocolate”, etc.), tools (“need spoon”, “need bowl”, “need pan”, “need mixer”, etc.), and request help (“need help”) to prepare a delicious treat.

Activities can be adapted to meet the physical needs of the communicator, as well as their current language level and goals in order to optimize access, learning, and engagement. While suggested target core vocabulary is provided, you are free to replace them with different target core vocabulary that best meets and expands the communicator's language skills and goals.


Don’t let the avalanche of regression come racing down the slopes over winter break! Make your AAC implementation fun and festive this holiday season!

Hannah Foley, B.A. is the Content Creator at Forbes AAC. She has over four years of experience in AAC education and implementation, in addition to over 24 years of personal experience using AAC and AT tools to navigate society as someone who has a (dis)ability. Hannah is dedicated to providing quality training and implementation resources to support teams to facilitate the integration of AAC into all of life's activities to maximize the communicative skill development and meaningful engagement of those who use AAC.

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