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5th October, Parent-Carer Group

Here's an overview of this week's parent-carer group session...

Today’s parent-carer session had a focus on ‘communication.  We were joined by Abi from Barnardo’s, Abi has been delivering the Shine+ workshop for us, each week we discuss the theory behind child development and the ways in which we can support our children relating to the weekly topic.  Input for today’s session on ‘Communication’ was supported by the Speech and Language Therapy Team. 

The session covered the Language Development Pyramid, our learners may still be in the early stages of the pyramid, such as Early Interaction, Play. etc. but these have to be in place before the higher levels of language can develop. 

We discussed ‘why we communicate’ and ‘how we communicate’.  Many of our learners at Springside are non-verbal but did you know that 65% of communication is actually non-verbal!  We use facial expression, movement, appearance, gestures, posture, eye contact and tone as a form of communication.

We spoke about the need to support our learners by giving simple, direct instructions, at a level appropriate to their language development. 

Visuals are a great resource to support communication and instructions.  For example, we use these when doing ‘now and next’, routines, and we also use symbols to support communication.  Some children may be starting to learn to communicate using symbols.  Your child may be being taught to do this at school using PECS and/or PODD

  • PECS

PECS is a unique alternative/augmentative communication system PECS consists of six phases and begins by teaching an individual to give a single picture of a desired item or action to a “communicative partner” who immediately honors the exchange as a request. The system goes on to teach discrimination of pictures and how to put them together in sentences. In the more advanced phases, individuals are taught to use modifiers, answer questions and comment.

To find out more about PECS click here.


  • PODD

PODD is an example of an assistive technology called augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). It’s a book or device that contains symbols and words to support users to communicate.  It allows the user to express personality, feelings, make requests, greetings, comments, ask questions, etc. PODD also helps to support understanding too.

PODD stands for:

Pragmatic – the ways that we use language socially and with purpose

Organisation – words and symbols arranged in a systematic way

Dynamic Display – changing pages for a wide vocabulary and range of statements


To see PODD in action click here.



  • Social Stories & Comic Strip Conversations

Social stories are short descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and why.  Social stories can be used for a wide variety of situations such as to develop care skills such as brushing teeth, getting dressed, etc.  They can be used to support changes to routine, prepare for events and trips, provide support for distressing situations, including grief, to give positive feedback, and to support behavioural strategies, in addition to much more.

To find out more click here.


Your child's teacher will be able to advise you in relation to these programmes, if they are learning to communicate using these methods it is vital that we work together to avoid confusing them.  For example, we must ensure that we use the same approach and the same symbols in school and at home.


Chatta is an excellent support for our learners, download the app on your phone and/or laptop and take a look at how it can be of help in making instruction boards, talking postcards and much more.  Benefits include being able to use real photographs too!  The app is simple to use, take a look at our training here.


The group also discussed way which we can encourage communication through play therapy, such as Lego therapy which helps to develop social communication and problem-solving skills.  Take a look at the key aspects here.


Some of our learners communicate via Sign Language, Anna is our school Signalong Tutor.  You can find tutorials for Signalong based on different themes such as the weather, colours, bedtime, etc. our school You Tube channel, take a look


In general discussion, we also managed to support one of our parents with our ‘nappy/pad exchange’.  A different size was needed and we were able to make the exchange, it’s always worthwhile asking whilst you await your delivery.


Thanks for coming, see you next week

Carole Kelly

Family Support Worker