This section starts with the first step of training a child to use AAC is to teach them the purpose behind using Avaz - in other words, the cause and effect relationship in communication, i.e. the concept that if they use a tool such as Avaz to communicate, it has a direct benefit to them. 


NOTE: If your child is already using a picture board / communication chart / PECS to communicate their needs, please skip this section.


Steps: 


1. Watch this 30-sec video to see how to personalize the app for your child's needs. 

This video shows how to easy it is to set up the app and add words to it:




2. Set up Settings: 

  1. Set up Pictures per screen to 1 picture (Huge). (Settings > Pictures per screen).

  2. Turn off the Message box (optional) to avoid distraction for an emergent communicator (Settings > Message box = OFF)

  3. Turn on Zoom (Setting > Zoom = ON)


3. Add New Folder using Edit (pencil icon): 

  1. Create a New folder in Avaz with the child's name and photo. This motivates the child and helps them identify the folder. 


4. Teach a new word

  1. Add your child’s favourite item in Avaz

In the folder, add your child's most favourite item (that is likely to motivate the child- like food or sensory toys. e.g. Food (e.g. popcorn / chips / chocolate) to the folder or Sensory Play (sensory ball / sandbox etc.). You can also add words like `water` that are need-based. 

Now you're all set to start using Avaz for the first step of using Avaz with your child.


Switch Avaz to 1 picture, without the sentence box

    


If your child prefers sensory toys, use a sensory play object to begin with. 


  1. Model the word in Avaz 

  1. If it’s an item that your child requests for frequently (say popcorn) using gestures (by pointing / gesturing / pulling your hand to show you etc.), it is important to first acknowledge their attempt to communicate*. Immediately bring Avaz and show their favourite item(popcorn). 

  2. Model the word on Avaz

  1. Show the child the Avaz screen with the item (popcorn) and tap the item on popcorn, while speaking the sentence aloud: 

“I think you want popcorn?” or “Oh you want popcorn! Here is popcorn” . 

    1. Stress on the word popcorn (or their favourite item) while speaking the sentence aloud and also pointing to it in Avaz. Allow the child to see the image on Avaz and also hear the audio of "popcorn" while you tap it. Note: Tap only the word popcorn in Avaz. Do not tap the rest of the words of the sentence in Avaz. 

  1. Immediately hand over the popcorn (or favourite item) to the child. It is important to reinforce the user’s selection immediately. This serves as a motivation for the user. 

  2. Repeat this consistently every time that the child requests the item through gestures or otherwise. 

  3. Ensure that all family members too respond in the same manner to the child's request to ensure consistency of the response. If another family member hands over the item when the child points to it, then the child receives mixed signals and would be confused. And this would delay the child's learning. 


If the child doesn’t request for the item through gestures on their own, keep their favourite item in front of the child and repeat the Modeling step on Avaz, while also handing over the actual object to the child. Keep the item in the child’s view initially, to help the child relate the object to the symbol in Avaz. After a few trials you can keep the item away from the child’s view while modeling the word and hand over the object whenever the child touches it. 


* *Alternatively, if it’s an item that your child already uses gestures for, by pointing / gesturing / pulling your hand to show you what they want, acknowledge their attempt to communicate. Immediately bring Avaz and show the screen and tap the same item on Avaz, while saying : 

- Oh you want popcorn! Here is popcorn

 - I think you're trying to tell me "I want popcorn". Okay, here is the popcorn. 

while giving the popcorn (or their favourite food) to the child. Allow the child to hear the audio of "popcorn" while you tap it. 


*Remember: You are not only acknowledging their form of communication (gestures / pointing), but  also replacing their behaviour, by showing them how they can do it using Avaz. 


Important note: 

  • If the child has used gestures to communicate the request, do not make the child repeat the request on Avaz by forcing them to show it again on Avaz. This is really important! If they point or gesture something that you understand, you don't want to make them say "Okay, now tell me on Avaz ..." since that means you're making them do it twice. And no one likes to repeat their request and you will see a lot of pushback. 

  • Also, do not tell them “Say it to me on Avaz or else I will not give it to you”. This can get them really frustrated about using Avaz. 


  1. Model model model everyday (repeat this for a few days to a week)

Model the word several times during the day for a week. During the day, repeat this activity several times (4-5 times).


  1. Prompt the child to respond (if required, and for one week) 

After a few days of your modeling the word, if the child doesn't start touching the picture on their own on seeing it in Avaz, you can try prompting the child to guide them to the correct response . Try the different methods of prompting to see what works best for your child. Attempt each prompt followed by a pause of 5-10 seconds for a response. If there is no response try the next type of prompt and so on until the child is able to make the correct response. Try the different prompts in the sequence given below: (Least- to-most hierarchy)

  • Facial cues - Start by using your eyes and eyebrows to point to the word

Pause for a few seconds(5-10 secs) for the child to respond.*  

  • Word cueing - Example - “You want p______”. 

Pause for a few seconds(5-10 secs) for the child to respond.  

  • Verbal Prompt - "You have to touch something here" (indirect), or "touch the popcorn".(Direct) 

Pause for a few seconds(5-10 secs) for the child to respond.  

  • Gestural prompt - Point to the picture from above without tapping it. 

Pause for a few seconds(5-10 secs) for the child to respond.  

  • Modeling - Touch the icon yourself while speaking the word aloud 

Pause for a few seconds(5-10 secs) for the child to respond.  

  • Physical prompt - If the above attempts don't work, finally use Physical prompt. Guide the child’s hand or finger physically to touch the picture in Avaz. 

  • If you’re prompting the child, make sure that you wean off the prompt gradually To make the child independent of the prompt. E.g. soon a tap on the arm may be sufficient to signal the child to touch the picture. 

  • For more details refer to the section  Prompting strategy


*Note: Different children may take different times to respond.


        Respond to the child's attempt to communicate. Read Response strategies

  1. Gradually withdraw the prompt. Once the child is able to select a word with any form of prompting (verbal / physical etc.) it is very important to move the child away from the prompt and make them respond independently, without the prompt. Reduce the prompts gradually, as per the Prompting strategy. Until the child is able to respond independently. 

  2. Create many more opportunities for repeatedly using the word during the day. With consistent repetition, the child will soon learn to start tapping the picture on Avaz for requesting for the item. 


Once the child starts requesting independently, this is the first indication that the child has understood to associate the tapping of an icon in Avaz, to getting an item they want. 


5. Add more words 

Once the child has learnt to use a word independently, add more of the child’s favourite items, one word at a time. Go through the same steps as given above for teaching every new word. 

Change the item that is requested on the screen several times, to ensure that the child understands the cause (i.e. tapping the picture) and effect (i.e. giving the item to the child), without misunderstanding the purpose of the exercise. The child should not think that the purpose of Avaz is to request a specific food item or toy only. 


Important: 

The immediate reinforcement of their request helps the child to gradually relate the tapping of the item on Avaz to getting the physical object and having their needs met. 


Tips: 

1. Ensure that Avaz is easily accessible to the child whenever they are requesting for the item. 

2. Giving them their favourite foods or items motivates them to communicate.