A.T. Tip of the Week

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Provided by the Massachusetts Assistive Technology Act Program (MassMATCH)

April 14th, 2016

Working with Emergent or Beginning AAC Users? Learn the Rules of Improv!

In her recent blog post, Kate Ahern reflects on the power of the rules of improv for promoting engagement with emergent users of AAC. Rather than second guessing communication or negating communication as random, she recommends improv rule #1: Respond "'Yes, and!"

In improv you always go with what is said, you don't shoot anything, down you are flexible and you go with it. Now your improv partner is barking like a dog? You don't say "Wait, we were pretending to be in a bank" you say, "Oh no! The bank robber hypnotized you! I knew I recognized him!" Or just about anything else to keep the exchange going. And in chatting with an AAC user you don't say "Dishcloth? I don't know what that means." (And then change the subject.) Instead you say, "Oh, a dishcloth? What about a dishcloth?" Yes, and?

Ahearn recommends all the rules of improv for working with AAC users, especially the first 5:

1) Say "yes'and!"
2) Add new information.
3) Don't block.
4) Avoid asking questions- unless you're also adding information.
5) Play in the present and use the moment.

Kate Ahern is an AT Specialist with Easter Seals in Boston. She blogs at Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs.

Reminder: MassMATCH makes no endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information set forth in this email or on its Web site. MassMATCH has not examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device here referred to.

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