Parents play a critical role in the child’s communication journey, as they are the primary communication partners in the child’s life and spend the maximum amount of time with the child. This section has been developed to guide parents, if their child is starting to use Avaz, and to provide strategies and methods to help implement Avaz at home. This guide has been developed under the guidance of Octave Hearing & Speech Centre, Bangalore
Who is Avaz appropriate for?
We believe that Avaz can be considered for individuals of any age range, starting from as young as 2-2.5 years. It is appropriate for any individual with speech impairments - e.g. Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Intellectual impairments, Down's Syndrome etc.
It has been our sincere attempt to put across experiences and best practices of families and professionals from diverse backgrounds backed by empirical evidence to create this guide. We do understand that no single solution fits all; however we do believe that this document will at least give you the initial direction to begin with using the Avaz app.
The app can be completely personalized to suit every child's unique preferences (e.g. favourite foods, toys, activities etc.) through simple, yet powerful customization options. The app also supports every child's individual support needs (cognitive, visual, motor needs) through an appropriate set of options in Settings.
What's possible with Avaz?
Let's begin with the possibilities that Avaz can offer!
Watch this inspirational video by Smrithy Rajesh to see how she's used it to improve communication skills for her son Advaith. See how she has personalised Avaz for her child's needs, and how he uses it effectively to communicate his needs and wants.
Before you teach your child how to use Avaz, you (the communication partner) need to know how to use it yourself. So practice with Avaz, when the child is away or asleep. Explore the vocabulary and practice communicating with Avaz, with a partner so that you feel comfortable while using it with your child. Let parents use Avaz to communicate with each other, for better practice. Remember that unless you know where the words are located in the hierarchy, you will be fumbling to find the word while modelling. Click here to know how to Practice modelling words in Avaz.
4. Key strategies for communication intervention
Here are two key strategies that are the most important ones for daily communication exchanges.
a) Modelling - Model, Model, Model the use of AAC everyday
The core strategy which is most effective for teaching the child to communicate is called Modelling or Aided Language Stimulation or Aided Language Input. Simply put, it means that you (the communication partner) have to "model" the use of the app to the child, by using it yourself to demonstrate the use. Every day is filled with communication opportunities for the child. As you go about your day with your child, use the words in Avaz, while also speaking to your child. The child learns to use the words in the App by observing how use the same for expressing yourself. Click here to know What is modelling.
It is very natural tendency to provide a prompt to guide a new user to learn a particular action. However there is a method and science to providing prompts. There are different types of prompts that you can use to motivate the user to learn and succeed.
5. How do I introduce Avaz in my child's daily life?
We suggest a combination of approaches or streams to developing the child's communication, emotional expression, while also developing language. You can follow either of these streams or a combination of both, as you may find suitable for your child's needs:
I Language through daily activities
The daily activities of the child provide a great opportunity for developing language and communication for the child! Model the use of core words for each activity. With consistent usage, the child learns the use and meaning of the various words modelled to them.
Some children require prior preparation for what is about to happen. Hence use the of social stories or visual schedules can facilitate in helping them be better prepared and also settling them down, preventing behavioural issues later. These can be designed within Avaz app or in low-tech form as well.
There is no specific duration - we recommend that you avail all possible communication opportunities to use Avaz everyday. In the beginning, you can start using Avaz for about 5-10 minutes on a specific activity during the day and then gradually increase the usage of Avaz for various other activities, depending on the child’s interests.
You can model more during the child’s most favourite activities during the day.
What situations can I use it in?
Communication happens through the day “in the mess of daily life”. The day is filled with communication opportunities. You can turn every interaction to a communication opportunity from the time the child wakes up till they go to bed. You can model core words during all activities and routines during the day. E.g. :
While brushing teeth - you can model "wash", "open", "close" etc.
At mealtime, you can model : "eat", "more", "want" etc.
Modelling these words repeatedly across all activities during the day helps the child get familiarized with the word and its concept and gradually introduce more vocabulary.
How to start using Avaz, if my child is already using gestures for a particular word? If the child is using gestures to communicate a request, accept and acknowledge the request first. Multi-modal communication is to be encouraged. 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 say 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. Instead, respond by using Avaz to add more words to their communication Click here to view Response strategies.
How many categories do I start with?
You can start with as many categories as your child is comfortable with. E.g. Food, Places, People, Play activities etc. As the child’s vocabulary grows, you can add more categories.
E.g. “I am tapping the People folder and here is Mama”. “I am tapping the Fruit folder and here is a banana”.
Model what you want and how you want your child to tell on Avaz. If the child finds the larger number of categories overwhelming, you can hide some of them using the option of How to Hide and Show icons.