Published: 09/08/2017 16:47
How can Tobii Dynavox Pathways for Core First be a wish come true? Join us for a two-part series to discover the answer!
We have been hearing that people all over the world are finding great success with Pathways for Core First. Carly Hynes, a teacher at Liverpool, England’s Sandfield Park School, shared some great answers when we asked about her experience with the free companion app for Snap™ + Core First® communication software.
Sandfield Park is a secondary special needs school serving approximately 80 students from ages 11 to 19. Many have been using some form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) technology since its inception at the school in 2015. They include students with cerebral palsy who primarily use an AAC device as their voice, individuals with Down Syndrome who use a device to support their verbalization and young people with autism spectrum disorders who are non-verbal or have little spontaneous communication.
Carly’s current students include 14 AAC users. Here’s what she had to say about Pathways for Core First and how it allows her and her team to better help the kids become stronger communicators.
Tobii Dynavox: What prompted you to download Tobii Dynavox Pathways for Core First and what were you thinking at that moment?
Carly Hynes: I had created a digital version of the Dynamic AAC Goals Grid (DAGG) to help me monitor my AAC users across their school days. As a dedicated eco-warrior, I found printing out multiple copies of DAGG every term really disheartening. But I did it because DAGG is a fantastic tool, unlike anything on the market. Turning it into an electronic spreadsheet seemed the most helpful and convenient way to track my students’ progress. Last winter, colleagues at the 2017 Communication Matters Roadshow were impressed when I told them how this saved me time and got the job done. Admittedly, though, my system seemed overly complicated at times. When I mentioned this to a Tobii Dynavox representative at the show, she introduced me to a speech therapist on the company’s clinical team, who in turn told me about Pathways and walked me through the app in an online meeting during which I remember thinking, “This is going to save me an absolute TON of time.”
Around this time, I had been desperate to give the learning support assistants (LSAs) who support our AAC users lessons to deliver in class. But every time I tried to think of something physical to give them, I couldn’t. It can seem overwhelming to other staff when I say, “Just do what I do, model all the time, use key words, narrate your thoughts, describe patterns…” Having lessons already written and with resources on an app that I can now direct people to and which they can look through at their own pace and deliver in accordance with the timetable in their classroom both ensures that the pupils have a high standard of intervention and means that I can keep an eye on what the pupils are up to. So on a management level, Pathways has made my life an awful lot easier!
One of the easiest and best parts of Pathways for me is because we use the DAGG to assess skills as well as set goals, the LSAs can go to the goals grid on the app, find a target and teach to the target without having to think of something out of thin air or take the device from the student to demonstrate new skills.
Tobii Dynavox: What is your favorite feature of Pathways and why?
Carly Hynes: My personal favourite resource is the top tips, as I said earlier, even though they are what I have been preaching since we started our AAC journey. However, I often think people sit up and listen when an outsider puts it in front of you. It is all well and good for me to tell people they should be modelling as much as possible. But it means a lot to see the process put together in a concise way on an app—with videos, cheat sheets and PDFs you can download, print, and send to anyone in the students’ support network—parents , colleagues, as well as personal assistants, cousins or neighbours. That is really powerful for those around the AAC user. We also have nine parents on board with a six-week program of study using Pathways over the summer holidays. I gave them specific lessons to deliver and will meet with them in September to get feedback.
Tobii Dynavox: If you were to recommend Pathways to a colleague or parent, what would you say?
Carly Hynes: If you have been told to use your child’s device more, if you have been told to model, if you are struggling with a starting point—this is your starting point. This app will guide you through from one word to full sentences with easy to follow, step-by-step instructions, pictures and videos.
I have recommended Pathways and I will continue to recommend it!