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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Communication Boards in the Classroom: A Follow-Up

Published February 28, 2012 9:30 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

Last week I wrote a post about using communication boards in a preschool classroom. This week I wanted to write a brief but hopefully thorough follow-up post about the effective use of such a tool in the classroom setting, and to examine its obvious limitations.

One parent responded to last week's blog with the following: "My daughter used these years ago. Mixed feelings. She got some things across but was frustrated when she couldn't find what she wanted to say."

When I read her feedback, I immediately realized that I may not have been as detailed as I should have been about using such a board. I responded to her statement with the following: "Agreed. The boards are only as good as what's on them. I like to use them with young children who are non-verbal because they are quick, simple and easy to use. A communication device is really needed long-term if speech is not developing."

I would like to expand on this response by offering a simple list of the pros and cons of using such a tool with the hope that this may help parents especially understand the true functionality of using such tools.

Some of the BENEFITS:

  • The board is durable (once it is laminated) and can be taken anywhere
  • Inexpensive to make and reproduce
  • Images can be changed based on what is being discussed. For example, you can make a board for mealtime, outdoor play, circle time, arts and crafts, and so on
  • It can be used to build vocabulary and teach language acquisition or sentence development
  • It can easily be sent home, on the bus, etc., so that carryover is simple
  • It provides a very nice way to begin to introduce linguistic concepts and lay the foundation for more complex and high-tech devices that may be needed in the future

Some of the DOWNFALLS:

  • It's only as useful as what's on the board. For example, the child may want to say something or express a concept that may not be on that particular board
  • The board stands alone and does not have voice output like a "talking" communication device. Therefore, listeners and even other children need to know and understand what the images mean.
  • The child needs to know and understand each picture (which are sometimes vague due to various concepts, etc.) to be able to use it completely.

I hope this helps to clarify the true nature of using tools like this.

Please share your own experiences with using communication boards!



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About this Blog

    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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