Please share this blog with your friends and neighbors!!
Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

It’s Imperative! Listening in on Spanish Conversations Out and About, AAC in our Community

In English-speaking homes in Arizona, parents communicative interactions with young children use many declarative statements (you like that) and interrogatives (do you like that).  I have noted that many Spanish-speaking parents here in Arizona use language with their young children that is quite loaded with imperatives.  This would be a great language study for somebody!  For now, I only have anecdotal reporting to rely on.

Many of us have witnessed periodic use of these imperative phrases, sometimes at a Mexican restaurant, the supermarket, or even on the playground.  In Spanish the grammar markers are so important they are included before and after exclamations.  Check out the images I found using my Bitmoji!

¡Mira! = Look!
¡Ven! = Come here!

Here are 3 more examples, some of which may not be recognizable to people who are not familiar with Spanish.  Would you be able to match these images to the imperative statements?
¡Dámelo! = Give me that!

¡Díme! = Tell me!

¡Ayúdame! = Help me!

Aided language input is a process of pointing to symbols as we speak, as a method to share meaning and grow expressive abilities of people who have limited verbal speech.  To reflect what parents are telling their children, the communication systems we use should also incorporate these forms: declarative, interrogatives and imperatives.

Take a look at the AAC systems you are currently using with your students, and reflect on whether they are truly robust and offer language experiences that will help the people we are supporting to build skills.  Here are a few links to AAC communication displays that you can download and try out:

Considering bilingual English/Spanish AAC options?

We are constantly growing our lexicon and thinking of new ways to share ideas with others. Think about how we use words and language.  Be careful not to judge others for the choices they make about how to share their ideas.

Most importantly - Have fun! 

Practical ideas and tips on bilingual issues and AAC can be found here - 

Also, please check out a core vocabulary resource that I created, 40 Spanish Words in 4 Months, at www.aacintervention.comhere (Tip #5).


Wagner, D. K., (2018, November). Building Augmentative Communication Skills in Homes Where English and Spanish Are Spoken: Perspectives of an Evaluator/Interventionist, Perspectives on AAC, 3, 172-185.  Download link:  https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/persp3.SIG12.172 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Book Creator: Create, Read and Publish

Book Creator
Create, Read, and Publish

Students who are developing literacy skills need daily opportunities to use/practice with letters, select words from their AAC systems, read books of their own choice, and write for authentic purposes and audiences.  Book Creator is a great tool for this.  Here are a few websites from those who use Book Creator with students who have complex communication and emergent literacy instructional needs.  
Find the Book Creator sample books by category.  LINK:  https://bookcreator.com/resources-for-teachers/example-books/ 

This post by Diane Brauner, August 2016, provides tips and examples for students with vision impairments.  TITLE: Book Creator App: Create Your Own Accessible Books on iOS, Android and Windows Tablets.  LINK: http://www.perkinselearning.org/technology/posts/book-creator-app-create... 
The image below shows page editing overview in the iPad app.  We added personal images, text and recordings.  You can choose the color for the page and text.  Before adding photos, be sure to markup and modify as needed to draw attention to visual information in the image.

And from Tracy Wilkes, March 2019, we learn even more about sending home books, publishing and making school libraries. TITLE:  Using Book Creator To Make Engaging Literacy Materials.  LINK: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/technology/using-book-creator-make-engaging-literacy-materials 
Here is an image of a published story written by Alexa, one of our participants in our Out and About AAC in the Community events.  LINK:  https://read.bookcreator.com/iM9O0VXRYMQ6IXWYCkCaLsFee882/S-QK7waLShOaagInaXubJw

Jon Smith posted this on the Book Creator site, January 2014, sharing that not only can you post stories written with and by students who have autism, but you can also track where they are downloaded on a map.  TITLE:  Using Book Creator to support students with autism.  LINK:  https://bookcreator.com/2014/01/using-book-creator-support-autistic-students/ 

WriteOurWorld.org is a US-based charity, supported by Book Creator, that empowers multilingual youth worldwide to embrace their languages and cultures while building skills for their future through digital book authoring.  Explore a growing inventory of multicultural ebooks created by kids for kids. You can read and listen in two languages!

Friday, March 8, 2019

CVI Resources Follow-up to AAC in the Desert 2019

 Compiled by Dorney, Hanser, Sheldon, Musselwhite & Wagner

Following AAC in the Desert, 2019, this list was composed for people who are interested in learning more about how to support the language and literacy skills of students who have Cortical Vision Impairments (CVI).  We have also included links that Kathryn Dorney shared on the Facebook Group AAC for SLPs.

Our Presentations and Publications:
  • Hanser & Wagner, ATIA 2018 & 2019.  Using PowerPoint to Adapt Books for Students with CVI 
  • Hanser, Tips for 2017. www.aacintervention.com Tip #7:  Making PowerPoint Books for Students with CVI
  • Wagner, ISAAC 2018.  Using PowerPoint Books to Support Communication & Literacy for Students with CVI
  • Wagner, Tips for 2018. www.aacintervention.com Tip #6: Building Vision for Communication, An Example for PHASE I Applications. Tip # 7: Integrating Vision with Communication, Examples for PHASE II CVI

Resources for Collaborative Input

CVI Webinars & Videos

CVI Websites for Continuing Ed, Tips and Ideas

  • Drawing from the work of Gordon Dutton, and including ideas and strategies shared by parents, caregivers and those affected by CVI, this website provides information about visual characteristics and profiles for CVI, processing at different levels of the brain, and functional vision.  Language learning emphasis is on the individual, drawing from experiences that are perceivable, meaningful and motivational, in order to build knowledge and understanding https://cviscotland.org/documents.php
  • WonderBaby.org is dedicated to helping parents of young children with visual impairments as well as children with multiple disabilities. Here you’ll find a database of articles written by parents who want to share with others what they’ve learned about playing with and teaching a blind child, as well as links to meaningful resources and ways to connect with other families. http://www.wonderbaby.org/  

Look for Some Electronic Books...

CVI Friendly Book Authoring Apps
  • Pictello App (currently $19.99)
  • Book Creator App (currently $4.99) 
  • Explain Everything App ($13.99 Explain EDU version)

Downloading/Resizing Videos


Bruce & Bashinski (2017). The Trifocus Framework and Interprofessional Collaborative Practice in Severe Disabilities. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, Vol. 26, pp 162–180, May 2017. Copyright © 2017 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Downloadable from: https://pubs.asha.org

Erickson, K. (2017). Comprehensive Literacy Instruction, Interprofessional Collaborative Practice, and Students With Severe Disabilities. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, Vol. 26, pp 193–205, May 2017. Downloadable from: https://pubs.asha.org

Justice, L. M., & Pullen, P. C. (2003). Promising interventions for promoting emergent literacy skills: Three evidenced-based approaches. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 23, 99-113.

Porter, G., & Burkhart, L. (2010). Limitations with using a representational hierarchy approach for language learning. Retrieve from http://www.lburkhart.com/handouts/representational_hierarchy_draft.pdf 

Roman-Lantzy, C. (2018). Cortical Visual Impairment: An Approach to Assessment
& Intervention. AFB Press, 2nd Edition. ISBN-10: 0891286888; ISBN-13: 978-0891286882

Roman-Lantzy, C.  (2019). Cortical Visual Impairment: Advanced Principles 
(Includes chapter by Mark Tietjen on “What’s the Complexity” Framework).  
American Printing House for the Blind..  ISBN-10 / ISBN-13: 1616480076 / 978-1616480073

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Necklace Books - Project Writing # 1

WHAT:  Necklace books are a fun way to encourage beginning writers!  I have created a slide show to demonstrate how this could be used to support the full writing process.  I recommend NOT doing
this as a one-shot activity, but rather helping students to do the following:
Day 1:
Plan: pick the person to receive it, and brainstorm ideas
- Draft:  get down ideas on paper, but NOT on the final product;  encourage developmental spelling, and use alternative pencils if necessary to support student writing.  DO NOT just tell students what to write down - encourage them to guess, then give evaluative feedback

Day 2:
- Revise: Help students know that it's important to add more, ensure that sentences make sense, etc.  For students who are scribbling, this would be the time to give evaluative feedback on possible meanings of scribbling
- Edit:  Help students with correct spelling, punctuation, and capitalization
- Publish:  Now students get to make the mini-book necklace!  It's more fun if you have:  colorful paper for covers, various yarn or ribbons for hanging the necklace, and stickers for the cover!

WHO:  This is perfect for students who are beginning to scribble with intent, up to students who are writing full sentences.  So it's a great multi-skill activity!

WHERE:  This project-based writing activity lends itself equally well to multiple settings.
- School:  Because of the multi-ability factor, this is great for many classrooms.  Be sure to use the attached powerpoint to share the lesson!!

- Home:  What a great project to help your child make something for Grandma or some other favorite person.  Note: Don't stress over all of the components from the Powerpoint if you are doing this at home - just make it a time for your child to see that writing is fun!

Link to the Powerpoint slides:  Necklace Books How To

FOLLOW UP:  Consider buying the Klutz book, Making Mini-Books as a holiday present for someone you care about!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Thanksgiving Memories - Open Ended Writing Prompts

WHAT:  These two writing prompts are designed to scaffold writing for struggling writers.  For beginning and early conventional writers, writing a personal narrative can be hard.  Paragraph frames can provide one support.  However, students should also engage in truly open-ended journaling, without frames!

WHERE:  These are two of hundreds of writing supports from the are from the Write to Talk CD (Light Tech Writing / Paragraph Frames).  To order the CD contents in dropbox, contact Caroline and say that you saw this blog post - you can get access to the dropbox for $10 (instead of $35 + p & h ordering online).

HOW:  Give as little 'help' as possible.  Encourage students to use the alphabet as much as possible.  Students who use AAC may also use their communication devices, but always encourage writing with the alphabet, to help students say exactly what they want to say. 

Thanksgiving Memory Short
This is designed for beginning writers.  Note that the prompts can have many different responses, including humorous answers.  For example:
• 'It was' - the response could be: feelings (happy, boring, crazy), describing words (busy).
• 'I got to' - this could yield action words (watch TV), EAT (lists of food eaten), SEE (lists of people), GO (places).
• ' My favorite part was' - might yield nouns such as (FOOD, FOOTBALL, FAMILY), places. etc.

This version supports students in writing a full paragraph, but includes transition prompts.



Wednesday, November 21, 2018

ASHA Handout: Poetry Power

Poetry Power:   From Emergent to Conventional Writing (Apps Included)
ASHA 2018 - Poster Session
Musselwhite & Wagner

Download PDF here: Dropbox Link

You too can empower students with a wide range of disabilities using poetry to support emergent writing, and to support older students with disabilities in using poetry to support learning writing traits.  This approach is based on poetry instruction following the four-phase approach by Lorraine Wilson (Write Me a Poem).  

Poetry reading and writing can be highly supportive to:
  • Emergent writers, who are practicing using the alphabet
  • Students who use AAC, including students with cerebral palsy, autism, and syndromes such as Rett and Angelman.

  • Even very short poems can be powerful.  This is an important feature for struggling writers, who may have difficulty with output.
  • Poems are an excellent medium for expressing the self.  They can also be highly cathartic.
  • Poetry can assist in generalization of skills learned in the classroom (e.g., summarizing a topic via a shape poem), speech & language therapy (e.g., practicing descriptors) and occupational therapy (e.g., using the alphabet creatively).
  • Poetry is an excellent opportunity for peer interaction, creating group poems, and discussing poems created by individuals.

A “smith” is a craftsman who makes things.  Ergo, making something with words can be called “wordsmithing.”  We see young children making words they haven’t been taught, even over-applying word-building rules as they figure things out.  Think about how a young child might say “eated” until he learns not to apply the +ed rule to every verb.  Likewise, children in bilingual homes may apply rules across languages to make up new words.  For example, adding “ito” in Spanish means it is a little one, so some bilingual households may hear words like “crackercito.” And people using AAC may substitute or combine words to make a word that sounds right.  For example, “soup” may be used as a name (Sue) or a drink may be called mountain + do (Mountain Dew).  Poets creatively combine sounds and words, and we can use wordsmithing in poetry form to systematically practice patterns and word combinations. 

Motivate students and teachers alike to use repetitions within poems, across types, and during performance/presentation.:
  • Core words when writing/drafting; find, copy/share message window from an AAC app with LAMP, Snap + Core First, Compass with PODD, Proloquo2Go 
  • Categories of words (to add more)
  • Poetry types
  • Performance with movement: apps to act it out (green screen apps, Explain Everything, Puppet Pals, Kids Doodle)
  • Performance with sound: apps to speak recorded Poem (iFunFace, Funny Movie Maker, Morpho, Voice Changer Plus).
  • Performance with music: iMovie, Clips, Smule, AutoRap
  • Visual display: Word Art, PathOn


Poetry Immersion
During poetry immersion, teachers can support students in: 
  • listening to poems, including on-line readings by famous authors/poets (like Jack Prelutsky) or other AAC users (like Sami Kadah)
  • reading poems through choral reading or echo reading 
  • interpreting poems by talking, moving, group presentation, or painting

Sample accommodations for this phase include: 
• using communication devices 
• using synthesized speech (Natural Reader, iBooks, Siri, Google) 
• using gestures and on-screen (animated) playback 

This phase allows students to observe accomplished writers write poetry.  Modeled writing is of primary importance for this phase.  Be sure to show students how to use alternative keyboards and/or communication apps to write their words and make sure they can see the text being produced. This can be accomplished through:
  • live, in the moment teacher modeling (important for mini-lessons)
  • watching videos (playback of recorded instructional demonstrations, including screen capturing or screen casting apps like Explain Everything)

Students Write Poems
Key factors during drafting include the importance of writing without standards and use of temporary or developmental spelling. Teachers must beware of over-cueing during the drafting phase.  

Sample accommodations include:
  • Vocabulary/spelling/word choice supports such as message banks with words or images, word prediction or word completion, color-coding 
    • First Author, Abilipad, category and spelling pages on AAC apps 
  • Physical access accommodations that zoom in, swipe or scan for more letter choices by group, or can be selected by a mouse, joystick or eye gaze
    • Alternative Pencils, SuperKeys, MyGaze by TobiiDynavox 

A range of poetry types can be incorporated.  Sample poem types include:
  • List poems (adjective, noun, verb poems) 
  • Cinquain or Diamante poems, with focus on parts of speech (building vocabulary & syntax)
  • 3 x 3 poems, offering short models of writing (3 words to describe, 3 action words, 3 word sentence). Example at the end of this post is from Sidney. Her first attempt imitated word choices from others and the version pictured below includes personally meaningful choices
  • Color Poems, providing prompts that work for very emergent writers through high school students with learning disabilities.
  • Poems for 2 Voices:  offering an excellent opportunity for compare / contrast (ex:  Revolutionary Soldiers / British Soldiers).  (See Fleischman’s books and audio versions)
  • Shape poems, presenting a summary of a topic of study, such as oceans
  • 3 word bio poem (see example below from Katie)

Begin responding in the immersion phase by writing, drawing or acting out poems we hear or read.  Rate poems and talk about what makes them interesting.  Use parody to create a similar poem with different words.  

Remember to encourage drafting without standards so that students take creative risks in their writing. Use mini-lessons to help demonstrate how poems can be revised.  An example might be a lesson on over-use of some words with suggestions for other interesting choices.  Create visuals to move old words to the cemetery and replace them with words that sparkle.

Both self-evaluation and peer evaluation can be important elements in this phase. One recommended support is the TAG conference sheet (adapted from Rog and Kropp, 2003, The Write Genre):
• Tell something you like
• Ask questions
• Give advice
Sample accommodations during the revision phase include:
• Communication displays
• Question cubes 
  • Cards to support telling comments, asking questions, and giving advice

Encourage sharing of poetry, even during the draft and revision phases.  A range of options for publishing poetry are possible:
  • Creating simple chapbooks with paper versions of poems, shared as presents
  • Decorating t-shirts, banners, mugs, calendars, etc.
  • Visual Poetry - showing word clouds and word paths
  • Audio Sharing, including morphing the sounds during playback 
  • Video Sharing, including read-back using funny moving mouth apps 
  • Creating electronic storybooks with text and page-turning adaptations (such as Book Creator, Story Creator, Tarheel Reader) 
  • Adding personalized backdrops or backgrounds (e.g., Puppet Pals, Kid in Story) 

Clendon, S., Sturm, J., & Cali, K. (2004). The Vocabularies of Beginning Writers: Implications for Students Who Use AAC. Philadelphia, PA: American Speech- Language- Hearing Association Convention.

Fleischman, P.  (1988). Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices. HarperCollins Publishers Inc.  ISBN: 9780060218522

Fleischman, P.  (1989). I am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices. HarperCollins Publishers Inc.  ISBN-10: 006446092; ISBN 978-1-883332-70-9

Hopkins, L. (1998). Pass the Poetry, Please! New York: HarperCollins. ISBN: 0-06-446199-8

Kadah, S. (n.d.). Thoughts From A Room Without Doors.  http://samikadah.weebly.com/ 

Koch, K. (1970). Wishes, Lies, and Dreams: Teaching children to write poetry. New York: Harper Perrenial. ISBN: 0-06-095509-0.

Musselwhite, C. & Hanser, G. (2003). Write to Talk: Talk to Write, 2nd Edition. AAC Intervention, 916 West Castillo Drive, Litchfield Park, AZ 85340. www.aacintervention.com

Musselwhite, C. & Hanser, G. (2006). Write to Talk Suite CD. AAC Intervention, 916 West Castillo Drive, Litchfield Park, AZ 85340. www.aacintervention.com 

Musselwhite, C. & Wagner, D. (2006). Poetry Power: Jump-Starting Language, Literacy, and Life (A Make-It / Take It Book of Ideas and Adaptations). www.aacintervention.com

Musselwhite, C & Wagner, D. (2006). Poetry Power Suite CD. Available for purchase from www.aacintervention.com

Prelutsky, J.  Multiple titles available from Amazon, including New Kid on the Block, which can also be purchased as an iPad app by Wanderful Storybooks.  Check out Jack’s website for writing prompts (http://jackprelutsky.com/online-writing-activities/ 

Rog & Kropp (2003). The Write Genre. Stenhouse Publishers, ISBN: 978-155138-172-5

Williams, M. & Krezman, C. (2000). Beneath the Surface: Creative Expressions of Augmented Communicators. (also available in CD format). www.isaac-online.org