Using AAC More in the Classroom

Recently we challenged our readers to start using AAC more in the classroom to ensure that every student has choice and voice. Hopefully you had an opportunity to download the freebie associated with that challenge. If not click here to read the article and get a free AAC tool to incorporate into your classroom.
Did you rock out that challenge?
Are you looking for more ways to build vocabulary with students who use AAC devices?
We’ve got some great ideas for you!

Are you looking for more ways to build vocabulary with students who use AAC devices? We've got some great ideas for you!

Don’t know where to start with core vocabulary? This will give you a FREE starter board, tips and tricks to teach with, and even the first 5 words to start with!

Where to Start With Core Vocabulary

You may have read a previous post all about where to start with core vocabulary and communication boards for students who are nonverbal or minimally verbal. I have gotten a some great messages about AAC and core vocabulary success, but also questions on what to do next. Well, I’ve got a great roadmap for you!

Where to Start with Core Vocabulary

If you have not read the post on AAC and Abuse in kids who are nonverbal or minimally verbal, please pop over and do so. There you will find a FREE communication board you can place near the door in your classroom to teach the word “GO”. Recently I was talking to a teacher who had great success using that FREEBIE board. He found his student was able to learn the word and effectively use the board to communicate places to go within one school week.

That’s amazing!

More importantly it shows that with consistent use, communication boards can be successful for students. His question, of course, was what to do next?

To answer that question and give everyone some guidance, below you will find a road map to introducing core vocabulary.

With the rates of abuse growing higher year after year, what can you do to protect your students? One word: AAC!

AAC and Abuse

AAC and Abuse

It seems like such a long time between a student entering pre-kindergarten and aging out of high school… but the truth is it’s just a fraction of their lifetimes. In the little time we have, our most important responsibility is to equip our students with an effective way to communicate with others… it is a must to lower the rate of abuse for nonverbal students.

With the rates of abuse growing higher year after year, what can you do to protect your students? One word: AAC! 5 Must Dos to get more AAC use in your classroom and reduce future abuse.

Meet Tricia…

I was in a classroom just last week and a 20 year old young woman was exhibiting some severe behaviors. She, let’s call her Tricia, was a student with Down Syndrome and a severe Speech Impairment. Most of what Tricia said came out as grunts and points. That day Tricia went through an entire 30 seconds of emphatically grunting and pointing and making facial expressions to the para-educator in the classroom. The teacher was standing next to me and I asked him what Tricia had said. He replied “Damned if I know.”
Clearly the aide didn’t know either. She looked confused at Tricia and asked her “What do you want?” That was the straw… Tricia punched her arm, pushed her and moved to a nearby table where she proceeded to throw all the papers and materials onto the floor. The behavior escalated from there.


Later, when calm had returned, I asked the teacher how Tricia expressed her wants and needs. He looked at me and replied, “I guess she doesn’t.”



Vocational Targets for Students with Autism- 7 Skills to help get your students job ready.

Vocational Targets for Students with Autism

Vocational Targets for Students with Autism

Every year when I sat down with one of my favorite students to get ready for her IEP meeting, we had nearly the same conversation…

Me: So Katie, what do you want to do when you graduate.

Katie: I want to deliver babies.

Me: That means being a doctor. You would have to go to college for a long time to do that.

Katie: That’s okay. I like school.

Me. Katie, you can’t read and don’t like to write. It may be hard to get into medical school and graduate.

Katie: I guess so.

Me: Is there another job might like?

Katie: Yes! I want to deliver babies!

Me: *Sigh*

Social skills for students with Autism is hard to teach, but a must have! Here are 4 strategies to teach vocational social skills...| NoodleNook

Social Skills for Students with Autism

Social Skills for Students with Autism

Me: Hi Bobby!
Bobby: Hi Mrs. Noodle.
Me: How are you today?
Bobby: I’m not touching my balls!
Me: Um? Good Job!?!

So, needless to say, this really happened.

Vocational Social Skills: 4 strategies and 2 freebies to teach social skills to students with Autism.Functional Versus Academic Skills

We work hard with our students on academics and learning… and we also work with them on building functional and vocational skills in hopes they will be able to get and keep a job someday.


Here is the truth of the matter.

Even if they are part of the less than 10% of students with low incidence disabilities that are gainfully employed, many of them will struggle to keep a job. And the two main reasons low-incidence disability students (like Autism) cannot keep a job is because they have poor hygiene or they have poor social skills.

Why Do Kids with Autism Kids Do That? Plus Teacher Tips to Help!

Why Do Kids with Autism Do That?

Why Do Kids with Autism Do That?

I have seen the power struggle first hand. A teacher, thinking they are doing the right thing and wanting to be in charge of a classroom, tells a kid with Autism to take their hands off their ears and work on an assignment in front of them. They students doesn’t comply. The teacher tries to coax or plead or force compliance… and they don’t succeed.

Why Do Kids with Autism Kids Do That? Plus Teacher Tips to Help!

The question is, why do kids with Autism do that?

I think if teachers really thought about the answer to that question, they would address students in the classroom differently and really pick their battles.


I used to work with a boy whose Autism presented pretty severely. He was nonverbal, had a lot of repetitive behavior, including rocking, and he nearly always had his hands over his ears. When a hand was needed to do something, he would press his shoulder to his ear and use that instead. I had a new paraeducator working with me over a summer session and the first day she really insisted he put his hands down. He would do it for just seconds and then his hands would return to his shoulders. I told her to let him leave his hands there and she asked Why? Why does he do that.


Do you wonder too?


Read on!

Teaching Students with Echolalia- Practical tips for getting authentic speech.

Teaching Students with Echolalia

Teaching Students with Echolalia

Talking to someone who repeats back everything that you say is tough.

Teaching them is tougher… so what can you do when you are teaching students with Echolalia and Autism?

Read on, and be sure to get your free printable!


Teaching Students with Echolalia- Practical tips for getting authentic speech.

Echolalia… Echolalia

Picture this… me teaching in elementary school during the early years of my career. I came out of alternative certification and had no idea about really working with students who have profound and severe disabilities. The section on those kids is super short… and really impractical, so I was winging it. Meet Johnny (not his real name) who was a very classically Autistic kid with severe social and communication deficits. He was smart, sometimes violent… and he educated me on Autism in a very hands on way. So, this was our snack time in the beginning:

Me: “Johnny, what do you want for snack?”

Johnny: “Snack.”

Me: “Johnny, do you want cookies?”

Johnny: “Cookies.”

Me: “Johnny, do you want an apple or cookies?”

Johnny: “Cookies.”

Me: “Here Johnny, here’s your cookies.”

Johnny: Throws cookies all over the place and proceeds to flip the table.

Me: *Sigh*


Sound familiar? If you are teaching in an Autism unit I know you have been there. So what do you do? How do you even start? First, what is Echolalia?