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Implementation 101: Using Core Vocabulary Across Everyday Environments

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1 Implementation 101: Using Core Vocabulary Across Everyday Environments
Julie Dunbar, M.S. Ed. Assistive Technology Exchange Center A Program of Goodwill Orange County

2 Agenda Introduction Course purpose
Language Development and Core Vocabulary Using Core Vocabulary in Everyday Situations Resources Available Questions/Wrap-up A little bit about me and my background – I graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with a bachelor’s degree in speech language pathology and audiology. In between undergrad and grad school, I worked as a teacher’s assistant at the Illinois Center for Autism. That’s where I had initial exposure to AAC and AT. I researched graduate schools in the country that allow you to emphasize in AAC or AT and found Purdue University in Indiana. I earned my master’s degree in special education and did a two year practicum providing AAC and AT services to children grades pre-K through 12th grade. From there, I taught special education for children K-3rd grade for two years in the Chicago area before becoming a regional consultant for an AAC device vendor. I worked as a regional consultant for 4 ½ years prior to starting the position of technology specialist for the Assistive Technology Exchange Center or ATEC in Santa Ana, CA. ATEC is a program of Goodwill Orange Co. and we provide assistive technology services including evaluations, assessments, and trainings to communities across southern California.

3 Before we begin…Let’s set our expectations higher!
"I know many parents and educators who are so happy to have their child be able to just express their needs. I think people who do this are doing a great disservice to their child; because there is so much more to life and communication than just expressing needs.“ - Jon Feucht, AAC user A lot of times we see devices setup with phrases for basic needs such as “I’m hungry,” “I need bathroom,” etc. We want to move beyond that because communication is so much more than just expressing basic needs.

4 Core Vocabulary What does the research tell us?
80% of the words we say comes from a list of 200 words; 85-90% of the words we say comes from a list of words (Baker & Hill, 2000) When was the last time you said… go Dolly Parton more get cinnamon Neptune see and jeopardy like tornado Dora run is are

5 Core Vocabulary: Multi-meaning words
Go Make the car go Go home/go outside Go away! Turn Turn on/off Turn around Turn the page Turn up/down My turn Up Wake up Shut up! Open up Put up Stop Stop that! Make it stop I want to stop It’s time to stop

Vocabulary Selection CORE VOCABULARY Small number of words used frequently Does not vary across settings, gender, age, etc. FRINGE/EXTENDED VOCABULARY Can be 1000s of words depending on individual Not used frequently Changes depending on topic, setting, interests, etc. Impossible to predict what someone wants to say! Access to core vocabulary allows for novel utterances and communication across settings and environments Student using device that said “I do” for tying his shoe

7 Toddler Vocabulary Banajee, M. , Dicarlo, C. , & Stricklin, S. B
WORDS PERCENTAGE WORDS PERCENTAGE I 9.5 2. No 8.5 3. yes/yeah 7.6 4. The 5.2 5. Want 5.0 6. Is 4.9 7. It 8. That 9. A 4.6 10. Go 4.4 11. My 3.8 12. Mine 13. You 3.2 14. What 3.1 15. On 2.8 16. In 2.7 17. Here 18. More 2.6 19. Out 2.4 20. Off 2.3 21. Some 22. Help 2.1 23. All done 1.0 Total 96.3%

8 “Communication is based on the use of the individual words of our language. True communication is spontaneous and novel. Therefore, communication systems cannot be based significantly on pre-stored sentences. Communication requires access to a vocabulary of individual words suitable to our needs that are multiple and subject to change. These words must be selected to form the sentences that we wish to say.” – ASHA’s AAC Glossary Individuals from the AAC Institute did a study analyzing the language used by effective communicators. This was done through data logging on their AAC systems. The study found that 90-95% of the time these individuals were using core vocabulary and single words to compose messages; approximately 5-10% of the time they used extended or fringe vocabulary, and less than 3% of the time they used pre-stored messages or phrases.

9 Typical Language Development
18 months 5-20 words 2 years old words 3 years old 900-1,000 words 5- 6 years old 2,500-5,000 words A typically developing child has acquired the majority of core vocabulary words he or she will need by about the first grade level. However, children using AAC are often sent on to school (preschool, kindergarten, etc.) with a limited vocabulary or pre-stored messages. By the time a typically developing child is 3, he or she already has a vocabulary of about 1000 words. Children entering school need to be able to talk to learn. We can’t send them to school expecting them to start learning the material and then learn to talk. If they don’t have that foundation of language before academics are started, then we won’t have a lot of academic success. Language precedes academics. Talking to learn VS. Learning to talk

10 Communicative Functions
“I want… , I want… , I want… , I want…” There’s more to communication than requesting objects! Other communicative functions include: Naming Commenting Requesting objects Requesting information Responding Protesting or rejecting Greeting ** ALL COME UP IN STAGE 1 ** Along with teaching how to express basic needs, I’m sure we have all encountered that individual with an AAC system that can request basic wants… “I want eat,” “I want drink,” “I want more,” etc. but beyond requesting, they aren’t doing much else with their communication systems. Communication is much more than requesting!

11 Literacy and Core Vocabulary
Less than 10% of individuals who use AAC systems will read beyond the second grade level (Erickson, 2003) Most sight word lists used in schools are made up of core vocabulary words Dolch word lists Fry word lists

12 Core Vocabulary in Communication in Everyday Situations
Preschool Age Example: Brown Bear, Brown Bear book “What do you see?” (I see a…) Instead of only asking the child “what do you see?” and only requiring a label… “Tell me something about the bear…” (he is big; he is brown; I don’t like) Have the child ask you or other children “what do you see” in other environments for carry over activity

13 Core Vocabulary in Communication in Everyday Situations
Elementary Age Example: Weather lesson Questions Responses What happens when something evaporates? What goes in air What is atmosphere? Air around us What is precipitation? Water fall on ground Tell me about a hurricane? Big turning storm; big storm that turns over water What is condensation? When air turn to water What is a blizzard? Lots of snow

14 Core Vocabulary in Communication in Everyday Situations
Elementary Age Example: Five Senses lesson Common Words Taught Don’t forget core words! Eyes See/Look Ears Hear/Listen Nose Smell Hand Touch/Point Mouth/tongue Taste Play “I spy” but use “I see…” Cardboard box with small hole to see Bring in various things to smell… talk about smells using “I like…” or “I don’t like…” Bring in various things to taste Play different sounds Bring in sensory items to feel

15 Core Vocabulary in Communication in Everyday Situations
Middle School Example: Solar System unit Typical vocabulary chosen: Mercury, Venus, Earth, etc. Questions Responses Tell me something about Jupiter Very hot; biggest one; has red spot Tell me something about Mercury Close to sun; smallest one What is the sun? Big hot star How does an eclipse happen? Moon goes in front of sun

16 Core Vocabulary in Communication in Everyday Situations
High School Example: Anatomy and Physiology Questions Responses What does our brain do? Help us feel and think What do we need lungs to do? Give us air. Help us breathe. Tell me something about proteins. Help me move and stay up. Define respiration. Air goes in and out. Breathe in and out. What happens with your metabolism? Food break down What is pigment? Gives me my skin color

17 Core Vocabulary in Communication in Everyday Situations
Adults Example: Visit to the doctor Why do I need that? (medicine) My head hurts a lot That one makes me feel sick I feel sick because my head is hot, my throat hurts, and I have a cough I hurt in my (leg, arm, stomach, etc.)

18 Core Vocabulary in Communication in Everyday Situations
Adults Example: Getting around town/travel I need help to find the grocery store. Can I get to the mall on here? What time is last stop? I need to take this with me. I need to leave at 9 a.m.

19 The Language Stealers

20 Resources AAC Language Lab (
Lesson plans Teaching materials; books Language stages charts AAC Institute ( FREE professional development courses Tarheel Reader ( FREE accessible books Bookshare ( Accessible library The Bridge School ( Apps for Teaching Core Vocabulary

21 Questions? THANK YOU!! Assistive Technology Exchange Center
A Program of Goodwill Orange County Julie Dunbar, M.S. Ed.

22 Resources Baker, B.R., Musselwhite, C., & Kwaskiewski, K. (1999). Literacy, language, and minspeak: Core vocabulary is the key. Duke Univresity Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, February. Benajee, M., Dicarlo, C. & Stricklin, B. (2003). Core vocabulary determination for toddlers. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 19, Beukelman, D.R., Jones, R. & Rowan, M. (1989). Frequency of word usage by nondisabled peers in integrated preschool classrooms. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 5, Erickson, K. (2003). Reading Comprehension in AAC. The ASHA Leader. Erickson, K., Koppenhaver, D., Yoder, D., an Nance, J. (1997). Integrted communication and literacy instruction for a child with multiple disabiliites. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 12(3), Hill, K. (2009). Data collection and monitoring AAC intervention in the schools. ASHA Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 18,

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