CVES as a Multimodal Communication Tool
While CVES can certainly be used as a stand alone low-tech AAC system, it can also be utilized as a language teaching tool. In the latter example, CVES can be used as a multimodal communication tool to support receptive and expressive communication. Multimodal communication includes all forms of communication that one may use to communicate, including speech or word approximations, pictures such as those in the CVES Core Vocabulary Foldout or Binder Inserts, manual signs, gestures, body language, or speech generating devices. It’s important to consider all forms of communication to support both receptive and expressive language needs of clients who have complex communication needs.
For my client Thomas, CVES has been very effective as a language teaching tool. Thomas is 15 years old, has a medical diagnosis of Autism, and uses an Accent with Words For Life software. He attends a local high school in an Educational Life Skills Classroom. Thomas is kind, smart, and incredibly capable of learning language; however, he has difficulty with communication partners getting too close and/or touching his communication device to model language. For Thomas, looking at a second screen on my device was overwhelming, and resulted in frequent communication breakdowns, perseveration on auditory feedback, and decreased orientation to the communication partner. It should be noted that this is not a blanket statement for all users of speech generating devices; rather an observation that my current tool to teach Thomas language was ineffective for him. For several of my clients who have speech generating devices, I may model my language on my own personal communication device, but I have learned over the years how important it is to differentiate to each learner’s needs. I have found that low tech communication supports can be quite powerful to model and teach language, and with Thomas, low-tech has been the most powerful support for his language system to grow. Upon input from Thomas’s mother, we moved away from using a second device to the CVES Advanced Trifold 189 .
General goals for Thomas include: increasing functional communication (wants, needs, preferences, ideas), increase mean length of utterance and variety of syntax structures, increase spontaneous novel utterance generation, increase understanding of spoken words, and decrease use of verbal prompting.
Collaborating with Thomas’s mom, we set specific goals for Thomas’s language development with a focus on using core words and addressing functional communication skills. Specific goals for Thomas are of follows:
- Thomas will use core words to greet (i.e. what’s up, how are you) using his voice/communication device.
- Thomas will make a functional request using core words with his voice or communication device.
- Thomas will use core vocabulary words to take turns during a game or structured social activity by using his voice/communication device.
- Thomas will use core words (i.e. more, again) to ask for more of a preferred activity or item (i.e. music, music video, light toys, food) in 80% of opportunities across a variety of activities given physical prompting as needed.
- Thomas will protest using novel language (don’t do, don’t touch, stop that) across functional activities in 80% of opportunities given fading prompts.
- Thomas will use core words (i.e. “help” “help me” “need help”) to ask for help in 80% of opportunities given fading prompts.
- Thomas will express likes versus dislikes using core words (i like that, I don’t like) in 80% of opportunities given fading prompts.
- Thomas will name category labels (i.e. clothes, winter clothes, summer clothes, food, pets, toys, etc.) for a variety of categories.
- Thomas will use core words to describe functions for a variety of common items in 8/10 opportunities across 3 trials given fading prompts.
- Thomas will describe a picture or story using pronouns (he, she, it, they) in 80% of opportunities given given fading prompts.