Keeping Fit to the Core

Published: 26/06/2017 22:12

Picture of a family outside using an IndiLike no other season, summertime bursts with options for exercise—especially for families with toddlers, teens and kids in between. You can hike, bike, play ball or go for a swim together, whenever or wherever, without the constraints of a hectic school schedule.

Summer is a perfect time for kids to tweak their language fitness, too. For children with complex communication needs, the Tobii Dynavox Snap™ + Core First® app can help make that happen. There’s no waiting, no going out of your way and no need to dream up things to talk about. This intuitive language software meets the child at his/her literacy level, so you can start with a worry-free warmup based on whatever they wish to say in the moment.

Snap + Core First is very systematic. Think about it. From yoga studios to soccer fields, a good physical workout involves strengthening the core. The same is true of a good language workout, but instead of muscles, “the core” means words. You know, that small percentage of words universally used over and over because you really can’t say much else without ‘em. Words like “the,” “of,” “to,” “wh” words, pronouns and common verbs such as “be,” “do,” “make,” “take,” and “think” in every tense and form. They’re the foundation of many augmentative and alternative communication apps and Snap + Core First is no exception. But it is exceptional in many ways. In the true spirit of a workout, navigating the software can be energizing. Its consistent yet dynamic organization of language by parts of speech keeps communicators moving toward engagement, literacy and growth without losing their footing.

Running girl with IndiWhether children use three, 30 or up to 80 buttons on a page, symbol-based Snap + Core First offers plenty of ways to get some AAC exercise while making communication part of their daily routine. You can start with a smaller grid size, gradually stretching a child’s vocabulary from single words to phrases, then spinning phrases into complete sentences. Or you can start with a larger grid, then fill empty buttons around core words with fringe and personal vocabulary. These work in sync with keyboards and word prediction features to promote understanding of language as well as in-depth interaction. Content stays in the same location as the grid size changes, keeping the child and communication partners comfortable while working out.

Workouts often feel better with a friend or someone to guide you. The free Pathways™ for Core First® companion app fills both roles for Snap + Core First users, 24/7. Like a first-rate personal trainer, Pathways walks with you, whether you’re just starting your AAC journey or picking up the pace. It has step-by-step instructions for Snap + Core First startup, plus suggestions, tips, fun activities and videos you’re sure to appreciate as you aim to be the best communication partner you can be.

No worries about jumping into full conversation mode before your child is ready. It’s totally fine to march in place for a while. Catch your breath and use the time to review core words with the child or practice skills in isolation. You can turn to Quickfires and find small yet powerful preprogrammed messages for some impromptu chit-chat or, if they’re up for it, behavioral supports to practice social communication skills.

While you call the shots, Snap + Core First sets the course. With its abundance of easy-to-find communication topics and related language content, children can flex their vocabulary all summer long. Amp up your workout by asking the child what they want to talk about next. As a cooldown, you can browse topics together for ideas of where to go in conversations for seasons to come.

Snap + Core First is available for Windows and iOS.

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