2001 Conference Proceedings

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T.A.L.K. at Home: Fostering Communication Through Play

Jean M. Slater, MS
Speech/Language Pathologist
Slater Software, Inc.
351 Badger Lane
Guffey, CO 80820
Fax: 719-479-2254

T.A.L.K.--Take-Along Language Kits--are activities to be used by families of children with moderate to profound disabilities which emphasize communication, fine motor, readiness and social-skill development. They are the “homework” for the student who usually doesn’t have any. More than home vocabularies, these activities are fun for all family members, encourage communication through play, and reinforce the skills being taught in school. Parents have called them “Bags o’ Fun”. Participants will learn about the activities, how to record progress, and how to choose lessons. All will receive a parent brochure discussing an aspect of communication, and 4 lucky attendees will come away with a complete activity packet.

Parental involvement in a child’s education is something that all teachers try to implement. At every grade level, teachers ask parents to take an active role in their child’s education. From Kindergarten, when the parents send items for Show and Tell, to High School, when parents are encouraged to proof English papers, schools ask that parents reinforce the importance of learning and help their children practice skills learned in school.

“Homework” for students with moderate to severe disabilities is also important. These parents need to reinforce the skills that are being taught, and they should be actively involved in their child’s learning. However, home involvement may be less than ideal for a variety of reasons--no time to work it into the home schedule, no knowledge of how to do it, or no time for the therapist to get things ready.

T.A.L.K.--Take-Along Language Kits--Activities may help solve some of those problems and get parents involved in the communication growth of their children. Many fun home activities that support educational and functional goals and objectives will be shared during this hour presentation. It’s fun to learn and these activities prove it. Some parents and teachers have called the lessons “Bags o’ Fun” or “homeplay.” The T.A.L.K Activities focus on fostering, developing, and reinforcing communication, literacy, fine motor, readiness and social skills. More than home vocabularies, the activities are fun for all members of the family and encourage communication and skill development through play.

Communication is the umbrella over all the activities. The use of light-tech communication boards, voice message switches, choice making, or sign language is a focus of each lesson. The simple themes make the activities easy for parents to understand and follow. For example, blowing bubbles with a grandparent may seem to be the goal of the activity, but receptive and expressive language vocabulary, sequencing, requesting, turn-taking, and commenting are also a huge part of the fun.

To help parents understand the importance of “helping strategies” for fostering communication, six briefs have been prepared. These will be shared and cover the topics of: You Are Teacher, Too!, The Principle of Partial Participation, Hand-over-Hand Technique, The Value of Routines, Your Child is More Normal than Different, and What is Communication--How the T.A.L.K. Activities Help. (A copy of one of the pamphlets will be included in each participants handouts.)

During this fast paced presentation, attendees will see many activities, learn about the areas covered in the activities, and the resources that have been developed for parents. The activities can be used with children attending elementary school who have disabilities which significantly impact their ability to speak, listen, read, and write. Children with Downs Syndrome, cerebral palsy, severe speech dysarthria, autism, physical challenges and learning disabilities have fun learning, communicating, and playing with their family members. Four lucky members of the audience will receive complete Bags o’ Fun that they can use with their students.

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