We received the following:
- Inflatable Ball: used to remind or enhance the lesson of turn taking during conversations.
-Approx. 9.5 feet of cloth ribbon
How it Works:
- Beginner is for ages 5-12. This is your foundational level where kids learn about the rules of conversation. This is when the floor "stones" are introduced. You will toss a ball back and forth to demonstrate turn taking, and the flow of conversation is laid out.
- Intermediate is for ages 5-12. This is where you take the rules, and expand. Your child will learn about WH questions, how to speak up and be clear, how to change topics, etc.
- Advanced is for ages 8-12. Here, kids will comment on what is going on, or what others are doing. Kids will role play more here with being the main speaker or the main listener, and learn better strategies to change topics and take turns while speaking. This is the level I personally feel will be best suited if you can find a small group-even 2 or 3. It can be adapted, but I think a few same age peers would be perfect for this setting. If possible, perhaps even a mixed group- a couple neurotypical "role model" students as well as a couple with language issues. Mr. B's pre-school class was set up in this fashion, and the results were fantastic.
- Expert Level: Variable ages. This is where you take the classroom learning and apply it to the real world. We have a local grocery store not far from us where most of the people working there know all about B. This is a good place to start the real world stuff for us when we get to that point.
Making this even better for autism, CMC doesn't just stick with one mode or method. The course incorporates:
- Sign Language
- Meaningful Eye Contact
- Color Coding
- Gestural Communication
- Pictures-Symbols, and the like.
- Songs and Rhymes
- Role Playing
- Interactive games
- Video AND Audio Recording
Each lesson includes a letter for parents (great for teachers or group leaders,) an overview and what will be discussed and taught, a thorough "how-to" of the lesson that gives you a format to follow if you wish from what to say to the setting needed, and forms such as data keeping and assessments.
Starting at the beginning, we only need the yellow stepping stones. I was a bit concerned these might scratch/scuff my floor, or skid. But they do not. You can write on these with a dry erase marker, so they serve has reminders. But I do not. I'm still trying to teach Mr. B that we only write on paper, so to deviate, even when allowed, would defeat what I've done so far. The yellow stepping stones are for greetings and endings. So these represent hello and goodbye. We discuss a variety of ways to greet others and say goodbye, such as hello, hi, how are you, good day, bye, bye bye, good night, etc.
When Mr. B was 3, I was blessed to attend a seminar where the key speaker was an internationally renowned speech therapist from Poland. After the seminar, I took Mr. B to her and more or less begged her for advice. I was seeking any kind of wisdom, direction...ANYTHING to get him to communicate. He spoke via echolalia at the time. She noticed this and said it was wonderful. She said I could use this to our advantage and give him a "bag of tricks" so to speak. She told me to have him say things or ask for things 5 different ways, that way if he never understood the need or use for communication he would at least be able to "fake" it. So I began having him do this. "I want juice." "Juice, please." "May I have juice?" "I would like juice, please." "I need juice, please." That is an example of what I'd have him say, except I was very careful to not say them in the same order, nor would I just have him say them like some kind of rote memory drill. We go over each greeting, or conversation starter (the green foot stone,) but I do it in a random order, and in a more natural way than a rote memory style. The red foot stones are conversation stoppers, and the blue ones are chit chat like topics. We've not progressed that far, yet, because he doesn't like to start conversations of my chosen topic.
**Note** For special needs children who may be unable to walk on the stepping path or who have intellectual disabilities they suggest using colored beads instead. I think this is a great idea for that, BUT I also think it is a GREAT idea for someone with autism to wear just as a reminder! Mr. B can wear his "speaking bracelet" and he can "flick" the beads as he works his way through, so he doesn't get lost in his own thoughts and lecture instead of conversing.
This arrived at the perfect time for us, because Mr. B is EXTREMELY verbal. He is almost TOO verbal. But, he has issues with pragmatics, and the social dynamic of back and forth conversation. He would rather lecture than converse. CMC is designed for a small group setting, but we were able to adapt it to a one on one setting. We also used Mr. B's friends at times. I personally feel this is great for one on one, but it's REALLY great for a small group of child peers to use together!
The use of the ball is genius. First, it's a great manipulative to demonstrate turn taking in a tangible manner. Next, it promotes hand/eye coordination that can also help to foster body language in the long run. But also, it helps to build eye contact. Those with children who have autism know the hurdles we face to achieve eye contact. Temple Grandin says eye contact is "overrated." I would have to agree! I would rather my child look around and hold a meaningful, well executed conversation than stumble over his words because eye contact is so difficult for him to maintain. With that said, use of the ball in the back and forth turn taking portion has helped him to achieve a longer duration of more naturally maintained eye contact.
We were easily able to adapt this program to a one child setting. In addition to that, we were able to tailor it to his level. He's sort of inbetween levels, and there are gaps that need to be addressed across all levels. It is easy to read through the manual and decide where/what we needed to address. Here is an example:
The printable worksheets are great. They were a really nice way to exercise different portions of Mr. B's brain that he doesn't like to use. The promote a lot of deep thought and critical thinking, and Mr. B likes more concrete black and white answers. So this challenges him to really stop and think.
1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?
This is a PHYSICAL product. You can tailor it to your specific needs. It is best done in 1 45mins session each week, or 2 30mins sessions.
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?
This is amazingly great for ADHD, Autism, language delays, Aspergers, and more. The duration is similar to most Speech/Language therapy session in clinic.4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.
This is not an academic core subject or anything like that. It is a wonderful tool to augment your child's speech therapy.
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