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Use of 'Talking Mats' for teenagers with Down's Syndrome/Communication difficulties

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by dzil, Sep 7, 2011.

  1. dzil

    dzil Occasional commenter

    We use "talking mats" with pupils working at the higher P levels (P5 upwards) with great sucess. It is quite easy to set up and do. Out teaching assistants are really skilled at using this for quite a few issues, including supporting pupils to contribute to their annual review.
    To get the best out of it you need to be away from the other pupils so that they can't influence the pupils sorting. Also make sure you don't give any positive or negative comments about the way the pupil places their choices, only praise them for making a choice whatever it is... it can be easy to accidently influence things.
    Make sure the pupil understands what the pictures or symbols stand for (that's why it's not quite as useful for pupils working at P4, their symbolisation skills are not so well estabished) Have some paper handy so they (or you) can draw pictures or symbols of things you may not have thought of.
    Make the "like" and "don't like" sides of the mat clear and be consistant every time you use the mat.. eg left is always the "like" and labled with a bright smiley with a thumbs up and right is always don't like, labled with a sad face and thumbs down. The pupil can place things in the middle if they feel neutral about them too, on a continuum.
    Try it out with the pupil first on something that has not got a lot of emotion attached to it so they learn the technique, maybe sorting pictures of clothes they like or toys or food or colours.
    Good luck. Let us know how you get on.
  2. Thanks for your good advice, particularly trying the technique out on something neutral first (like 'animals' or some everyday activities.) I'm going to have a word with the SALT and the EP next week when they come into school, so I'll let you know how I/we get on in the next few weeks.

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