Support worker 1 I have been working in LD for 4 years now. I work in the Outreach team, so I support SU’s to go out and attend social, sporting, Health or Education events. I love my job as every day is different. I support 5 Sus altogether on different days of the week. I attend a college session with one teenage boy who is trying to improve his literacy. He has problems with his communication, he has Cerebral palsy and cant form the speech sounds properly. When he tries to say a word it is difficult to understand. He is able to read and uses an IPAD to write down his choices sometimes. He gets very frustrated, when he cant make himself understood. He has a keyring of picture symbols for choices. He carries this round with him. I enjoy visiting the college, I also enjoy taking SU’s out to the cafe where they choose their meals etc.
Researcher Can you tell me about any relevant training you have attended
Support Worker 1 I have attended the Makaton signing training at a basic level. I also attended the communication training on the Induction when I started. I did some training with the Speech Therapy dept on how to use PECS although I cant remember it all now. I also did the Intensive Interaction course with the Speech Therapist. I havent done any training on using high tech communication aids.
Researcher Can you explain how you enable Service Users to make choices non verbally
Support Worker 1 I support Service Users to make choices by talking face to face with them. I use slow language and repeat if necessary. I also always use their AAC board if they have one and ask the question and show them the symbols. So if its when we are choosing meals, I ask them what they want and find the pictures of food on their choice board. If I cant understand what they say I give them a choice of picture symbols. Sometimes I encourage them to use signing. I always find that the Support worker has to encourage them to use their systems. Sometimes they have their pictures in a bag so they cant access them easily. Having instant access to the pictures is very important. Its also important to give them the chance to communicate, as a lot are passive and will just let the support worker make a decision.
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Researcher Do you support SU’s who use picture symbols eg PECS
Support Worker 1. I support 3 Service users who use pictures. One is the PECS system, one has their own pictures and one has a communication passport. On the PECS system, you have to be prepared to use the Pecs pictures all the time. The SU is supposed to hand you a picture in exchange for something like crisps. Often the SU has to be encouraged to get the PECS pictures out and find the one they need. It could take 10 minutes for them to make a choice, so you have to be patient and encourage them to use it. If the SU looks happy when they get their choice, its important to note it. As often there is a problem and the SU gets something they dont want. They might be showing this by their facial expressions,
Researcher What do you do if they look unhappy.
Support worker I try the cards again, I put the object on top of the card and ask again is this what you wanted. If they indicate no, I will encourage them to look at all the PECS cards again. Sometimes it takes 3 tries to get the correct choice. I enjoy it, when they succeed. It feels like an achievement. Its like people with Communication problems are disadvantaged and cant make choices the way other people do. Using AAC levels the playing field and makes it possible for them to succeed in their life goals. Even if the goal is to make a friend or to live independently.
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