Helping unlock communication in central Scotland
Massively excited about this one. 2 weeks ago I pushed the button to order the PODD software package for my Independent SLT business. The focus of my thinking is preschoolers with autism with very limited language. It has now dropped through my letter box and I have started printing – a book on its way for my first independent PODD client!
So what is PODD? It’s basically a symbolised communication book. PODD stands for:
- Pragmatic – the ways that we use language socially
- Organisation – words and symbols arranged in a systematic way
- Dynamic Display – changing pages.
The PODD communication book PLUS Aided Language Input makes sense in so many ways. The individual parts are nothing new – but for me the way the components come together for PODD make it very workable.
First: In order to learn a language we need to be exposed it – to hear/see/experience it over and over and over. That applies to spoken language but also to other forms of communication (such as sign language, object signifiers, symbol systems etc). As a Speech and Language Therapist I always recommend that those around a child with autism use what we call Total Communication (speech, signs, symbols, photos, objects, written word). But I personally never previously felt that I had a particularly robust way to actually do this naturally. PODD couple with Aided Language Input is a fantastic way to expose kids to language in the form they may learn it best.
Second: My clinical experience has always been that visuals seem to act as a kind of bridge to speech for SOME children. Not all but some. PECS (the traditional autism stand-by) can be a bit of a speech kick-starter and after lots of thought I concluded that it is because the approach ties together real object+symbol+written word+spoken word+motivation. It is directing the child’s attention clearly to which bits they need to attend to and linking up the connectors between those elements, if sifting through all the sensory information is hard this is helping the person zoom in on what is most important. And ta-dah PODD links all those together beautifully – and in real time and real life.
Third: I am all about looking at the breadth of reasons to communicate. Human beings communicate for so many reasons, not just to request things. So for me as a Speech and Language Therapist the first thing I look at is the full range of communicative functions (how to say NO, how to joke, how to say go away, how to express pain, how to show surprise and how to greet to mention but a few). Another reason I like PODD communication books is because they give you a way to express all these things. Interestingly one of the symbols I most use – and one of the first ones for one of my clients to use is “Uh-oh”. Not a surprise given that there is so much connection, fun and expression in that phrase.
Fourth: I know for a fact that intrinsic motivation (being truly engaged in something) is the key to deep learning. I also know that previous approaches like PECS work on the intrinsic motivation of desire for motivating things. But I feel that PODD gives a chance to tap into many more layers of motivation – Once you have requested the cars – the submotivations may be 1) sorting the cars, 2) crashing the cars, 3) expressing satisfaction with the cars, 4) the need to say “buzz off, they’re my cars”. PODD gives a way to go deeper and engage further beyond the request.
I am not negating the value of PECS – for some autistic individuals it is the right thing for a time. I have seen its’ effect for myself. But I wonder if we may always need to be looking ahead to deeper, multi-layered communication and connection – and see PECS as a bridge to further communication.
Excited about PODD and Aided Language Input in many ways – and so privileged to have some families with young children with autism who are giving it a go. I have been inspired like bloggers such as We Speak PODD , and practical descriptions such as Praacticalaac. Well worth checking them out for inspiration.
Can’t wait to get started. I will keep you posted.