After the child has learnt to establish cause and effect using Avaz, it is time to move on to teaching the child to make choices.
Through the settings menu, switch the Pictures per screen to 2 pictures / screen. You can turn off the Message box if it seems distracting. This gives a clean and uncluttered interface for the child to begin with. You can also use the Disable option from the Edit screen to temporarily remove other items (categories and messages) from the home screen, to avoid confusing the child.
Program Avaz with these two items, either by creating it or moving it to the home screen (through the Edit mode).
Offering choice of Food or Sensory toys is a good place to start using Avaz. Many children have their favourites here. Set up the screen with the child's favourite items and ask them to pick their choice.
If food is a favourite, you can add food items like chips, popcorn etc. that are easy to reinforce to the child by giving small bites when requested. If sensory items, you can add sensory items that are available for play.
Before adding the items to Avaz, ensure that the favourites objects are readily available and accessible.
Offer a choice of only those items that are immediately available.
E.g. do not offer the option of “Tom & Jerry” cartoon or “ice-cream” if it is not available to be offered to the child at that point of time. This would be misleading and will de-motivate the child from using Avaz.
Offer a choice between two objects, one highly reinforcing/desirable/preferred item (popcorn/chips) and another that is non-desirable / non-preferred item (carrot). Both items should be placed in the field of view of the child.
If the child prefers food, start with food items.
Or if the child prefers sensory play activities, use appropriate sensory play items.
Get the child to make a choice. Get the child to tap the one of the two items in Avaz to request it. As soon as the item is selected, immediately reinforce the selection by offering the selected item (e.g. popcorn or sensory ball) to the child.
If the child requests an item (even if you know it is the non-preferred one), give the requested item to the child immediately. It is important for the child to learn that a wrong choice was made and will help the child correct it. This is a strategy called Error identification that helps the child realize their own mistake.
If the child is not making the choice on their own, provide the necessary prompts to enable the child to give the right response, followed by the appropriate reinforcement. Read more about How to give prompts?
Change the position of the pictures frequently so that the child relies on visual discrimination between the images (and not position alone). In Avaz, you can enter the Edit mode and drag-and-drop the images to rearrange them.
Interchange the positions of the two items and see if the child taps the correct item (desired item) consistently. This is important to ensure that the user relies on visual discrimination rather than the position of the item.
Switch different non-preferred items to reinforce accurately. Try different combinations of preferred and non-preferred combinations, to ensure the child understands to make a choice.
Introduce 3 pictures per screen. Once the child has learnt to consistently choose using 2 images, move gradually to 3 and then to 4 pictures per screen. Initially, you may wish to leave the 3rd and 4th images blank, so that the child gets used to the layout change before being introduced to new images. To start with, only one of the images should be a preferred item (chips), all the others should be non-preferred items (e.g. carrot and bread)
Introduce more preferred items. Once the user is able to select chips consistently you can progress to showing more preferred items - chips (preferred), pop-corn (preferred) and carrots (non-preferred).
Introduce more pictures per screen gradually.
Add one more picture for the user to choose from. Set Pictures per screen = 4 pictures per screen.
Try to see if the user is still able to make a correct choice.
Keep adding more pictures to go up to 12 to 48 pictures per screen.
You can set it at the number of pictures that the user is comfortable able to make an accurate selection.
By honouring the user’s choice and providing him/her the chosen object/activity immediately, the user feels that he/she is in control of what they want to do and also boost the user’s confidence level. It also acts as reinforcement - if I touch a picture, I get the chosen object/activity immediately.
It is important to offer as many pictures in one screen as possible for the user to use. This exposes them to more words on the screen and less navigation to reach the same word. Navigation is difficult and less motivating.
Watch the video by Nimish Muttiah (Speech therapist, Sri Lanka)
She demonstrates how to offer choices and reinforce the selection with the actual item - e.g. Bubbles, song, ball etc.
View the video after the first 1 minute is over. Notice how she introduces 4 choices - teddy, book, bubbles, ball by tapping each option and speaking out the option. As soon as the child picks “ball”, she immediately offers the ball for the child to play with, even if it is for only a minute.
Similarly when the child selects “bubbles” she immediately pulls out the bubble blower and blows bubbles, even if just for a minute.
After the 3rd minute (in the video), she offers a choice of songs for the child to pick. As soon as he picks a song, she sings the song for him.
Note that it is very important to reinforce the selection immediately. That is how the child learns that his selection has a direct impact on how he can get his needs met and serves as a great motivator for using Avaz.
With choice making, the child gets to learn that
pointing/touching leads to voice output
pointing/touching leads to response and reinforcement
pointing/touching leads to zoom (if that option is chosen in the setting)
How to personalise Avaz for my child