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Let's talk together - Update manual

Ylana Bloom & Dolly Bhargava,
Innovative Communication Programming

Like Participation Through Communication, the Let's Talk Together update offers a highly practical guide to working with people with severe communication impairment and an intellectual disability. The aim is to provide ideas on using and teaching augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) skills to this population.

The update begins with a quick overview of AAC, Autism Spectrum Disorder and vocabulary selection. It then focuses on using two processes that the authors refer to as "Visual Connectors" and "Question Maps" to develop ways of using activities to promote and teach interactive communication skills and prosocial behaviour. The AAC resources developed should enable the individual to understand, participate in and talk about activities. Visual connectors are divided into four different types - fact connectors (such as schedules and activity guides), explanation connectors (such as social stories and chat systems), decision connectors (such as choice systems and rosters) and consequence connectors (such as cause-effect links and behavioural rules). Question maps are a tool for the communication partner that helps the partner explore and plan the different aspects of a topic or activity to ensure the individual AAC user is provided with the means and opportunity for participation in that topic or activity.

Time activity display using Softpics picture communication symbols

The Let's Talk Together update manual explains how to use the question maps and visual connectors to develop AAC resources for an activity and then to plan scripts to use those resources. There are examples of this process for communicators with low, medium and high support needs with illustrations of the resources developed. A section on using the process to help people with autism spectrum disorder cope with change in routine is provided. There are sections on specific AAC tools (or visual connectors) such as schedules, calendars, activity checklists, category books, social stories and scripts, wh questions, choice systems, rating scales, budget systems, meeting systems, cause-effect, shopping lists, behavioural rules, problem solution charts and cue cards. The last part of the book provides examples of the way various AAC tools might be planned around particular activities for different people. There is a reference list that includes useful web sites and a list of Australian organizations that can provide support or resources.

This book would be a useful practical resource for people wanting ideas about using and teaching AAC skills to people with disabilities. It offers little in the way of background information on AAC and picture skills, but does have many practical examples of a range AAC materials which would be useful to practitioners whether or not they choose to use the planning processes described.


The Let's Talk Together update is one of a series of communication resources published by Innovative Communication Programming. The manual has been written by Ylana Bloom and Dolly Bhargava, who are speech pathologists specialising as augmentative communication consultants.

For more information and order forms visit www.innovativeprogramming.net.au

Reviewed by

Dr Jennifer Stephenson,
Senior Lecturer in Special Education / Special Education Program Director
Editor Australasian Journal of Special Education
Faculty of Education
University of Technology Sydney

March 2004

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