Creating Functional Communication through Associating and Shaping Sounds Combined with a PECS-based
Skinner taught us that verbal behavior is not just spoken language. Yet, that knowledge has barely been utilized as part of our behavioral assessment and intervention process
I have BCBAs, RBTs, parents and others create inventories of any sound by the child, to include gestures, that consistently occur in the presence of and/or when gaining access to an item or activity.
When I have multiple folks generating lists, I cross reference and put them into two categories: (1) preferences/interests/choices; and (2) functional/adaptive/scheduled.
I literally refer to about any sound at all so long as it is consistently identifiable and connected to my above two categories. This includes more recognized approximations or word representations.
I also make sure to schedule time with the kiddo, or kids, whose sound inventory is/are being collected as a form of IOA. As we have spoken production identified and operationally defined, do I hear the same as primary observers? I also cross reference with others.
So, if a child consistently makes a 'razzing' sound as they look for and find a particular item, we write it down.
If a child uses the same sound blends (i.e., CV, CVC...), no matter what they are during the same activity, we write it down.
If a child makes a grunting sound, we write that down, too, if it consistently aligns with an item or activity as identified above.
Working this strategy sometimes needs more attention. This can be provided by a second observer who is not the primary with the child in the moment. Videos are also very helpful.
I'll then connect these sounds to the item and/or activity thereby increasing its EO for use as we move from the sound to more effective approximations which I typically pair with PECs styled symbols (or photos).
I start the teaching component by first consistently replicating the operationally defined sound the child had been making now in the more controlled presence of, or for access to, the item/activity. Once we can replicate the sound production, we start to move towards more consistent approximations.
Combined use of PECS-based symbols is part of my model. How I use and shape the sound replication paired with the PECS system is individualized per child.
I NEVER require designated communication for toilet use or food. I also NEVER use food/edibles in any way as a reinforcer. Toileting is separate.
When it's time to eat, we eat. Tho using naturally occurring communication opportunities during the meal can be effectively, carefully and compassionately incorporated.
As a Behavior Analyst, I also operationalize my reference to the 'compassionate use' of communication training. But that's for another post...
It expands further from here. I also have my own unique five phase pecs-based protocol to include one for Early and/or more resistant learners which fits in. I've had consistent success