Magic Moment: Is it a sheep? Is it a cow? No it’s a pterodactyl!

Two Pterodactyl superimosed on a picture of the english lake district

We had a super holiday together last week enjoying the Lake District National Park. We went for walks and enjoyed fresh air and time together.

Lucy uses Smartbox Supercore on an iPad. This means she always has access to core vocabulary (see my earlier post about what that means ) but it also means we have access to a large range of words that we can use to talk about what we’re doing at any time. Although we do focus on core words as much as we can it’s great sometimes to be able to use the words for the things we can see around us.

It was with this in mind that (after taking a deep breath and suspending my own significant fear of the creatures) we were sat with Lucy close to a field of cows. I decided to use model the word and show her where it was on her device. I was feeling pretty pleased, Lucy was looking at the symbol on the page and then following my point to look at the animals.

Now one of the things with Lucy is that she is especially fond of the bottom right hand corner of the iPad. She is often found selecting whatever is there. Now can you guess what was in the spot on the animals page? You’ve got it, pterodactyl.

Now you may be thinking; ‘well that was an accident then, Lucy doesn’t know what a pterodactyl is’….

In fact it was a brilliant communication moment…

A passing family hear her say pterodactyl and laughed. We laughed because the timing after my marvellous modelling of ‘cow’ was priceless. Lucy laughed because she knew she’d done something funny and that everyone else was laughing.

So, am I worried that she wasn’t paying attention to the word cow?

Nope, I was modelling it and I’ll model it again if the chance arises. She doesn’t regularly need the word cow it’s not core, it can wait. Learners don’t need to be ‘tuned in’ all the time to modelling it just needs to happen all around them like talking does.

Am I worried that she tends to hit the bottom right of the screen a lot?

Nope, she does explore the rest of the screen and try lots of different buttons. She just tend to start at the bottom corner, she’s just learning, the more she sees us using all the words on the screen the more she will understand the wonderful range of language available. It’s just like she’s babbling with the AAC.

Do I care that she said pterodactyl when she doesn’t know what it means?

Nope… if fact I LOVE that she said this because here are the things that did happen…

She DID have an experience of her communication attempt having an affect not just on us but on other unfamiliar people.

She DID learn that she can say things that are funny (whether she means to or not) and that’s one of the functions of communication. It’s not just about requesting or naming things.

She DID see AAC as part of normal natural communication, just part of a passing moment with a family who happened to be on the same path in the Lake District.

She experienced totally spontaneous and natural moment of communication and it was lovely for everyone involved. So all in all it really was up there as one of the AAC magic moments!


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