As a speech therapist, I'm always looking for fun and engaging activities to practice augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) with my students. One of my kids is really good at requesting on his device. I've been trying to expand that to commenting, asking questions, and expressing opinions. Well, I happened to know that my student likes mints (actually all candy), so I keep a few hidden stashes of candy around my office (just in case). Well, sure enough, my student independently requested "candy" with his communication device. So I modeled back, "Can I have candy?" and told him that if he wants something from someone else, that he could always ask them. I didn't make him create the phrase on his device. I just modeled it and gave him the candy. It's a good reminder that AAC doesn't have to be a demanding activity. It wasn't intended to be a reward rather it was a shared moment. We both popped in a Mentos. Actually, it was rather matter of fact. Remember, it should be relaxed and engaging and fun.
So, I opened up a new pack of Mentos that I had grabbed the day before at the drug store. I opened it up and as I was handing it to him, I noticed that there was writing on the Mentos. It had two little icons and the words HOTEL or CAMP. Then I looked at the package and realized that I had purchased a special kind of Mentos called THIS or THAT. Hmm. That quickly became a teachable moment. While I don't like to give out a lot of candy to my students, I thought that this could be a fun add-in to our session. Whenever he asked me (never prompted), we followed it up with a THIS or THAT question/topic. It was a great way to express preferences, likes and dislikes, and opinions. A skillful speech therapist would piggyback on those two words and talk more about their choice. Expand their expression. Ask questions. Describe. Talk about other types of candy. I even started a log of the choices so that I can prepare some fill-in-the-blank writing activities prior to our speech therapy sessions.
The THIS or THAT Mentos are printed with two choices. These were the ones that we uncovered (and ate) so far:
Ryan is the owner of RK Speech and Technology LLC in Perrysburg, Ohio. He is licensed in Ohio and Michigan. Ryan has been an active member of the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) since 2003.