Monday, 2 September 2013

Christmas Communication Signs and Symbols

I know it's only Sept but some people already seem to be on the Christmas Planning already (I'm not that organised) so thought I'd start (or attempt to, depends on organisation) posting resources and ideas that support individuals with SEN and or Additional Needs and their inclusion in the advent/ christmas activities/ events.

So starting with communication, which is obviously a key aspect of inclusion of anyone but it's essential that we get it right.
A few things to consider relating to Communication, Additional Needs and SEN
  • Attempt to simplify and reduce language, particularly ensuring you reduce jargon and cliches 
  • Speak clearly
  • Speak at a steady pace that isn't too fast and ensure some pauses between important points (not long silences, just a pause)
  • Supplement spoken language with changes to pitch and tone appropriate to what is being said with appropriate (maybe exaggerated) facial expressions
  • Supplement spoken language with visuals e.g. gestures, props, pictures, signs and symbols (some ideas for this below)
  • Idioms can be difficult for some people with additional needs, such as autism to understand. (Also consider the use of metaphors with some individuals, who may need more concrete examples I remember talking to a very verbal teen with additional needs after a talk using the metaphor that we should be like a stick of rock have Jesus' name running through  us, she said she thought the talk was great I asked what they liked the reply "Christian's should be crispy like a stick of rock")
  • Offer appropriate/ adapted opportunities for the individual to communicate alongside peers (you will need to consider the individual needs)
  • Ensure you communicate with the individual, their parents or carers about their needs and adapt accordingly 
  • Make inclusive practices a part of your "usual" practices, consider how the TV show Something Special has made Makaton mainstream.

Makaton Signs and Symbols
"Makaton uses signs, symbols and speech to help people communicate.  Signs are used, with speech, in spoken word order.  This helps provide extra clues about what someone is saying.  Using signs can help people who have no speech or whose speech is unclear.  Using symbols can help people who have limited speech and those who cannot, or prefer not to sign." (Makaton website) 

"Symbols are images which are used to support text, makingthe meaning clearer and easier to understand. They provide visual representation of a concept." (Widgit

There are a range of symbol sets e.g. Widgit Symbols, Picture Comuncation Symbols (PCS), and obviously Makaton. Symbols can be used to aid understanding and individuals communication.

British Sign Language
The sign system by some members of the deaf community in Britain.
  • Silent Night British Sign Language (and other songs) recorded for youtube
  • Silent night British Sign Language, printable song. It costs £1.99 to download
Check out one of my previous Inclusive Christmas Post

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