Wednesday, July 16, 2014

To My Non-Speaking Autistic Friends: Please Help

I have a situation in my classroom right now that I need the advice from my friends who are primary AAC users on. I know what my colleagues in education say, and I want more input before making a decision.

I have a student who is just learning to use his AAC device. He is at the stage where he mostly uses it in an exploratory manner. Lots of pressing buttons repeatedly to hear what they say. He also spends a fair amount of time trying to get someone to unlock the iPad and let him into the games that are also on it.

This is a student who exhibits some challenging behavior who, for whatever reason, was never previously taught a break request. He's catching on to the break request quickly.

Here's my problem: When I ask him to start an academic task (and stop for the moment exploring his device so he can listen to instruction) he asks for a break because he wants to go back to exploring/playing with the device. (Yes, there's a slip in presumption of competence there, but I'm not sure he understands that the communication app is different than the games, and that may be where his frustration/confusion is coming from.) I don't want to take the communication device away, but I don't want him to learn that asking for a break is a way to get out of academics and get to play with the iPad. Is it okay to go to low tech symbols on his desk (Yes/No, bathroom, break) to communicate  during a break?

Thanks for your help and insights!