What is Modeling?
The most helpful strategy we can use for the AAC users is Modeling.
But what does Modeling mean?
Modeling signifies pointing to words on the AAC device as you speak. Modeling can be also called Aided Language Simulation, Aided Language Input, or Natural Aided Language. This method brings benefits if it is practiced frequently throughout every day. It is very useful to try to model several reasons to communicate, for example, in discussions and simple interactions.
Modeling is a procedure that has to be used during the entire AAC course. After learning to model, we will use this strategy repeatedly
to encourage the AAC learner to discover the language and start communicating.
To make this subject extremely clear, we are going to talk about what can be done to support the evolution of an AAC user and give advice on how to defeat any difficulties.
The importance of Modeling
For AAC users, AAC becomes their language, so this is why you should talk to them using AAC! The more you talk using the AAC system, the better and more experienced you will become at it.
It is significant to understand the idea that AAC users may not learn how to completely use their AAC system to communicate if they do not see it used constantly by others in their life. The most reliable way that we can support an AAC user is the use of the AAC system to talk yourself.
With this information from you, the AAC user has the best opportunity to learn how to communicate using its AAC device. In case you do not implement the Modeling method and have big expectations from the AAC user to communicate, using their AAC device alone, then you may be disappointed. We must model as often as we can! Think about how long it will take to learn how to use their AAC device if we only model for a few times a week.
What to focus on when you model?
Here is an important tip: When you model, focus on KEYWORDS and don't put more value on compounding grammatical sentences correctly. Expecting too much represents a huge mistake.
When we model the keywords in a sentence, it makes us choose the most relevant words needed to emphasize the meaning of the message.
Imagine modeling this sentence: “I go shop get milk”. It can be seen that this sentence is not grammatically correct but the overall message can be understood.
The most frequently asked question may be: "How to start from single words to build sentences?" The answer is that selecting keywords as much as possible is a strong way that helps you start without the requirements of having to put an accent on the grammar. I know that it is hard to tolerate seeing incorrect grammar, but we need to understand that it is better to let that go in this situation. As long as they are constantly practicing, their grammar will improve.
To model keywords instead of grammatical structures is essential because this is how some AAC users will expand their abilities to communicate. They are likely to say and communicate to us in key words before they start composing sentences, much the same as all children develop language!
We have to think that like any other children in the world, they also have to communicate using keywords first.
What words should we model?
To provide lots of modeling of the core words, we have to present AAC users how to use core words in different ways, in different word combinations to express different things.
It is so important to model the language to be able to start conversations, make comments, describe things, actions, ask questions, give opinions.
We recommend that you should model words that are above the AAC user's current skill level.
First, model at the single word level. If the AAC user is not using the device to communicate in particular words, we have to model at the single word level.
Let's say that you’re leaving the house to go to the supermarket.
How do you say it verbally?
“I have to go to the supermarket.”
How do you model this sentence?
You have to press the “GO” button on the AAC device when you say the word “GO”.
After the AAC user makes a progress, you can add a new word when modeling.
For example: If you’re leaving the house to go to the park you can verbally say: “Let’s go to the park”.
While you speak, you press the “GO” button and the “PARK” button.
The negative aspects about focusing on modeling the grammar
① Modeling grammatically correct can make us feel overwhelmed because we may not have access to the proper words on an AAC device to be able to form a complete sentence.
② We can believe that we are bad at modeling and that it is too hard for us.
③ Because of concentrating on grammar, we may forget that keywords are a fresh start in building our language modeling. We need to get more familiar with the AAC device and inspire the AAC user to start using it more.
④ Like in real life, nobody has that much time to form complex grammatical sentences. We always want to get the information across because it is the easiest way. We have to bear in mind that this is important for AAC users too.