Outcomes and Next Steps
In the six months since initiating the inquiry to build George’s communication and self-determination skills, significant growth and student change has been documented. Captured in the Communication Matrix, and evident in observations and anecdotes, George has learned to share his personality with a growing number of peers and adults in the classroom.
Communication Matrix Results
George has shown improvement across several domains. He is using conventional methods of communication in conjunction with concrete symbols to reject and obtain objects and actions. Furthermore, he has progressed from emergent to mastery in the use of concrete symbols in these domains. George’s growth in the area of social communication correlates with an increase in self-determination. He is actively seeking and initiating interactions with both peers and adults using conventional methods of communication. Also captured in the Communication Matrix is his desire to inquire about the world around him with an emergence in the skill of asking questions.
The Communication Matrix highlights a continuation of communication development, providing a guide for future instruction and facilitation in the development of new skills. Although George has made significant improvements, he has not emerged into the use of abstract symbols, such as words, to communicate. With an emerging sight word vocabulary and access to an individualized iPad communication system, this is a targeted next step for his growth in communication. Similarly, George is not yet asking questions in a formal way. Through access to the iPad and the Sounding Board application, he can develop this skill with a page dedicated to asking questions and structured opportunities to practice asking questions.
Revisiting the Comprehensive Student Profile
COMMUNICATION: As George learned to use his new iPad and was given increased access to a voice to share his wants, needs, interests, and opinions, he visibly emerged as a participant in the classroom. During Morning Meeting, George will reach out to the peers sitting next to him seeking their attention. He uses his body, hands, legs, and upper torso to actively share his enthusiasm and request a chance to participate in class lessons and activities. He is vocalizing more frequently and with increased volume, demanding attention and reminding everyone of his presence in the classroom. At times, George protests and rejects objects and activities with increased vigor. Overall, it is exciting to witness the emergence of his self-confidence and determination in the classroom.
GROSS AND FINE MOTOR: George continues to work on increasing control and accuracy with his body movements. One challenge that has arisen as his enthusiasm around communication increases, is the manifestation of his excitement in excessive body movements. At times he becomes so excited that he engages in vigorous hand clapping and rocking, which he has a difficult time breaking out of to engage in purposeful behaviors.
VISION: With consistent placement of symbols in his Sounding Board application, George is improving his ability to visually discriminate between symbols. He continues to need adapted materials. George responds well to verbal reminders to refocus his vision to indicate a message on his iPad.
COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT: George continues to make progress in his understanding of academic concepts as indicated by accurate selection of responses during classwork. He is increasing his independence and relying less on visual and language prompts. He is learning to operate a dynamic screen using a field of two symbols linking to related pages in the Sounding Board application.
George is proud of his necklace! He used his iPad to choose the colors and created a complicated pattern (1 green, 2 yellow, 3 green, 4 yellow, 3 green, 2 yellow, 1 green...and then he told me he was “finished.” His teacher is proud too!)
COMMUNICATION: George requires increased access to the iPad with the gradual introduction of Sounding Board pages to promote different functions of communication. He would benefit from structured opportunities to interact with his peers. Communication initiatives made in the whole class setting need to continue to be reinforced to recognize his voice in a large group setting.
GROSS AND FINE MOTOR: Collaboration and support from the physical therapist and occupational therapist are critical to develop George’s gross and fine motor skills. In addition to working with him on strength and isolation, their knowledge about supports to provide stability are necessary to support increased accuracy in use of the iPad as a communication device.
VISION: Collaboration with the vision teacher to build visual skills and increased use of vision as well as consistency in presentation of materials are important next steps to maximize George’s functional vision.
COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT: George requires scaffolded opportunities to practice new skills in conjunction with modeling of new skills such as using a dynamic button to navigate pages of his communication device with increased independence. Consistent access to his iPad throughout his school day and in his home environment are needed to facilitate his cognitive development and generalization of skills throughout his environments.