When speech-language pathologist Amy Moczulski, M.A., CCC-SLP told us why she’s excited about Tobii Dynavox Snap™ Core First® we couldn’t wait to tell you!
Amy’s students at Barber National Institute in Erie, PA are 3 to 21 years old. Many rely on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for self-expression. Their learning needs and abilities vary widely, but they all have plenty to say. And Amy has plenty of reasons to believe Snap Core First gives students like hers the power to go far when it comes to engaging in interaction, growing as learners and developing literacy for life. One of the original SLPs to use Core First on Tobii Dynavox Compass software, Amy later served as a Snap Core First beta tester.
Ten likable qualities Amy identified in the new symbol-based software solution are:
- The built-in word lists and associated topics in Snap Core First are among the sharpest and most eclectic communication tools available. Children can simultaneously build and expand their store of language every time they use the software.
- In speech therapy sessions, Snap Core First is a gamechanger. Before, “you always had to have the cute activity or the little craft” to initiate communication. Now, Amy says, language comes first, so you can start a conversation around whatever the child is doing or wants to say naturally.
- The minute you open the software, students are on their way to more complete literacy without losing sight of the basics. You can, for example, use the word prediction feature on its keyboard to practice words that have the same first letter or introduce new words in a story you’re reading.
- Flexible communication. The software is giving, offering “any phrase or any word to fit the situation” at hand. Amy shared what she imagines her students might be thinking as they find confidence to express themselves: “I can’t tell you exactly, but I can tell you in a different way.”
- Genuine communication. Those who use Snap Core First can be themselves. With the options described above, communication in their own words—not someone else’s—becomes the norm. “Everyone that I’ve worked with has made great gains,” Amy said. “It’s a lot to take in, but just be open-minded and try different things.”
- Together, individuals using Snap Core First and their partners can come to appreciate that communication is a process. It’s “more about exploring with the child than planning” things for them to say.
- Modeling communication for children is a breeze with Snap Core First because you can find and edit content quickly. The software also redefines modeling, Amy says. Communication partners and the person using AAC technology become co-navigators as the person learns to apply language across settings and situations independently.
- Success equals ownership. Sometimes students are so invested in communication while using the software that Amy doesn’t need to model for them, nor do they want her to. “They have more of a voice,” she said.
- Children grow as their language expands and Snap Core First supports them. The depth of its content provides a segue for learning new aspects of language, like sentence structure. This is particularly important for children who “have challenging behaviors because they didn’t have a way to appropriately say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ or ‘I don’t like this,’” Amy said. “Some of their previous communications really just relied on requesting and didn’t move past that.” She likes when parents learn new things about their child and say, “I didn’t know that they knew this or that they were interested in that” before the child used the software.
- Last and not least, Amy likes the whole Snap Core First package. She encourages parents and paraprofessionals to use resources such as Tobii Dynavox Core First Books® and Lessons to help students make progress in lessons at school as well as in communication.