Case study: Supporting Jack with social communication
Jack’s journey with The Talking House began in 2014 when his parents approached us for support with his communication. Jack’s communication needs are complex. This case study provides an overview of the work that we have done with him so far and the progress that he has made.
Jack is 11, has Autism and is non-verbal. The Talking House started working with Jack in 2014 when his parents contacted for support with his communication. His parents were seeking support with a high tech AAC device (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) and also with Makaton for times when Jack couldn’t use an iPad such as when in the bath or at swimming.
In primary school, Jack was supported regularly by Laura, accessing the funding he received through his school. Now he is in secondary school, he is supported via our school service agreement. His parents help him with additional home sessions as and when needed.
Due to Jack being non-verbal, people who do not know him don’t always realise his language ability. Jack needs to feel comfortable with the people he is communicating with and to know where this fits into his daily routine. Once told what is expected of him (via a visual timetable and verbal language) Jack engages in a range of therapy activities. His motivation to communicate with others is dependent on the activity – he loves rough and tumble interaction and a lot of Jack’s language and communication targets have been taught in this way.
For example, when on a 1:1 or small group basis Jack loves Intensive Interaction. This was extended with lycra, parachutes, toys he likes, water sprays and games like tickles. Through these sessions Jack worked on:
Using non-verbal communication like eye gaze and pointing
Learning Makaton signs in context
How to use his AAC device functionally
Learning and sharing emotions in context
Language targets using a work-break schedule and a token board to support his understanding of the tasks and that he would go back to his ‘fun’ activity
Social interaction with peers through shared interactions with these games and turn-taking
Intensive Interaction was an important approach to build on and extend for Jack to develop his communication skills with others. His communicative intent was built on through this and principles of PECS – however, due to him showing a preference for his high tech AAC (and having the appropriate language skills to access a device) the stages of PECS that Jack had ‘skipped’ were taught such as travelling to another person with his iPad and gaining their attention before building his message to request.
His language skills were worked on through ‘word levels’ activities and teaching verbs through a multisensory approach. Jack then worked on question words and used Colourful Semantics to describe pictures and his topic work. Due to this not being as motivating for Jack as rough and tumble play, his language targets were worked on through play and he would navigate through category folders on his device to build subject-verb-object phrases like ‘Laura tickle Jack’, ‘Mr X give slinky’, ‘Mrs X blow bubbles’.
He has used Emotion Keyrings from the SCERTS model to learn how he is feeling within context and that he can share emotions with others to get help or comfort. Through his TA using these symbols, Jack began to show that he understood the links. For example, she said ‘ow’ alongside holding up an ‘in pain’ symbol – Jack pointed to his knee then outside to show he had hurt his own knee on the playground (a shared experience from the day before).
Turn-taking and social interaction has been worked on through Jack’s interests. His peers were taught how to use Jack’s communication aid with him and a Makaton signing group was set up for peers in his class to learn the signs that Jack was seeing and using throughout the day. Attention Autism was set up and Jack accesses this with a small group of peers to focus on shared attention and shared enjoyment with peers, turn-taking and language targets.
Life skills were supported through language targets such as sequencing and the development of vocabulary and verbs. Task Plans were used to support him with routines such as making a drink and brushing his teeth. Social Stories have been provided for Jack at times when he was going to experience something new or out of routine that was likely to be difficult for him – this worked really well for Jack when he underwent a life changing operation.
Training continues to be delivered in the various approaches to relevant school staff and Jack’s parents. This takes place through workshops and direct modelling of approaches with staff and Jack.
Jack’s progress to date:
Jack continues to be supported by The Talking House with his language, communication and interaction and we are so proud of far he has come! He has managed the transition to a new school brilliantly and continues to develop his communication skills using a combination of Makaton, gesture and LAMP to communicate his needs and participate in lessons
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