Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tools of the trade: breaking the silence at school

What I have been working on lately which has been the hardest to get started but ended up not taking too much time. We agreed at school Josiah needed a small book to assist with communication so that he is able to attempt communication when needed.

Deciding on the signs
First of all which took the most time I looked and looked to see if I could find the pictures I needed to make the book just in Word or another similar program. This proved most difficult because in using other people's designs it meant they chose the pictures and the content of communication. So I took the plunge and downloaded the software Boardmaker vs. 6.

After some initial confusion, it didn't take long to figure things out. Unfortunately it lacks some of the tools that Word and other programs use and I think it would take someone with less than average computer skills sometime to work things out and this is a disadvantage. However what is helpful is the pictures you type in what you are looking for and it brings up a set of relevant pictures. Once I figured it out I got things sorted and I was able to print up everything I needed.

The publishing process
What I used to bring it all together I printed the pictures onto a a5 size sheet and then cut them up so they fitted onto a a6 page this is a 1/4 of a a4 which I thought was the right size not too big and not too small. I aimed to make it as simple as possible so it would be easier to use for Josiah. I used coloured paper a different colour for every page and then laminated them. To bring it all together I went to the stationery shop and they had some small rings that you can insert into the book just using a simple punch to make the holes.

The next step is to help Josiah to be able to use it at school. No point having a wonderful program without it being used. The concept is simple. When Josiah was non verbal over Christmas he was able to use his sign language at other situations with family and friends. He has been able to use his sign language to some extent at school. The dilemna with any type of augmentative communication is the belief that it will become a crutch for the child if allowed to remain in this stage. But I suppose this only happens when nobody monitors the situation, if there is close monitoring then I believe that it will enhance his communication and lead to verbal communication in the future. Please read this article: Augmentative Communication.


  1. Had some problems with the pecs pictures they disappeared for some reason now fixed:)

  2. My daughter has selective mutism and will be starting Kindergarten in a few weeks and I would love to make a book like yours. Any suggestion on what to put in it besides yes, no, and restroom?

  3. Depends on the need of your child but I would include things like help, I don't understand, hurt, also scared for when she is feeling very anxious. And I included asthma and that too.

    Feel free to post me on facebook or email to if your prefer:)

  4. This is a fabulous idea, I think I might try and do something similar for my daughter. Thankyou!
    (I have just discovered your blog and it is really helpful to read about another family going through the same things - thankyou!)