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Carrigaline Playground Becomes First In The County To Pilot ASD Communications Board.

Here, Cllr. Ben D’Alton O’Sullivan explains the background to Carrigaline Playground becoming the first in the county to pilot an ASD communications board. We also have a specialist view from Gala Morgan, Senior Speech and Language Therapist. Thank You to both Ben and Gala for sending us these pieces.

A Communications board to assist children with communication difficulties, ASD & Autism has been installed at Carrigaline playground on the proposal and request of local Independent Cllr Ben Dalton O’Sullivan.

Cllr Ben Dalton O’Sullivan proposed the installation of a Communications Board at Carrigaline Playground last December at the monthly Carrigaline Municipal District meeting.

Speaking at the meeting in December, the Independent councillor called for Carrigaline Municipal District to “lead the way for inclusivity for people with autism and disabilities” through the installation of these boards.

The Communications board is the first of its kind to be installed by Cork County Council and is a pilot. At a subsequent full meeting of Cork County Council, Cllr Ben Dalton O’Sullivan received full support to have a communication board installed in each county playground.

Following this motion, it was agreed that the Communications board would be a pilot and if the feedback was positive, a communications board available at further county playgrounds.

Speaking to the The Carrigdhoun Newspaper, Cllr Ben Dalton O’Sullivan said;

“I’m delighted to see this communications board in place. The feedback has been very positive. This will hopefully be of help to Children who have autism, ASD or struggle with communications. Playgrounds are for everyone and I hope that this will make Carrigaline playground much more accommodating for these children”.

The local councillor thanked the Municipal District Officers Noelle, Nicola, Carol & Vincent who made the arrangements to have the ASD board installed last week.

Specialist View From A Senior Speech and Language Therapist

Gala Morgan, Senior Speech and Language Therapist, CORU Registration Number: SL018320.

People communicate in different ways. This includes:

  • Spoken language, like English or Polish

  • Sign language, like Irish Sign Language

  • Sign systems, like Lámh

  • Gestures, like pointing

  • Facial expressions, like smiling

  • Picture communication systems, like PECS

  • High-tech communication systems, like Snap Core First.

It can be very frustrating for people who communicate in different ways, like pictures, to be in a situation where they don’t have access to something to get their message across.

The new communication board in our playground will be helpful to support interactions between people who communicate in different ways.

What is a communication board?

A communication board is a board with pictures that can be used as a way to share messages. The communication board in our playground has pictures of words that are useful when you are there. These include pictures of things in the playground, action words, and words that can be used to request, like “more”.

Communication boards are a form of Total Communication. This means that we use everything in our communication toolbox, including pictures, gestures, signs, and words, to get our message across.

Who is a communication board for?

A communication board is for everyone!

  • Children who speak different languages can share messages with each other and be understood

  • Children who have difficulties with understanding will benefit from being able to see a picture of what you are talking about

  • Children who have difficulties with using language will benefit from being able to get their message across clearly, quickly, and effectively

  • Children who find making speech sounds difficult and have difficulty being understood by adults or other children will benefit from being able to show you exactly what they are telling you about.

Here are some helpful ways to get started with using our new communication board!

Using a communication board to support understanding:

The communication board will help children to make links between a real object, a picture and a spoken word. Visuals help us all to understand. A picture is more similar to an object than a spoken word.

  • There are lots of things in playgrounds and a lot of potential new words for children! Pick out one or two words to start.

  • Point to the picture and say the word, for example ‘swing’.

  • You can make a gesture or a sign too if it will help to support their understanding.

  • Make sure to use the same word consistently with the picture.

  • Then bring your children over to the swings.

You might need to repeat this routine many times before they understand the link between the word, the picture and the swings! We need to understand what a picture or a word means, before we can use it.

Using a communication board to support a child to use words or sentences:

  • Bring your child over to the communication board

  • If you know that their preferred activity is the slide, show them where this picture is on the board. Say the word as you show them the picture.

  • Encourage them to point to the picture too. You can use hand over hand to help them if they are comfortable with this.

  • Then go to play on the slide.

  • Repeat this routine, and the word ‘slide’ many times. You can repeat the word on its own or in short phrases like ‘Down the slide!

  • You can also give your child a sentence starter, such as ‘I want..’ This will give them an opportunity to use the word expressively and finish your sentence.

You can point to two different pictures to help your child to put words together. Like ‘big’ + ‘slide’ , ‘small’ + ‘slide’ or ‘finished + slide’. This will help to expand your child’s language use.

Using a communication board to support your child to ask for what she/he wants:

A communication board can be helpful for children who use pictures to request things that they want. This communication board is new, and it will take time for all children to learn what picture options are on the communication board. It might be overwhelming for some children, even if they are used to using pictures to communicate.

  • First your child must understand what the pictures on the communication board mean.

  • Keep bringing them over to the board and showing them the picture as you use each word or piece of equipment.

  • If they are gesturing or looking towards their preferred activity, like the zipline, use hand over hand to guide their hand to the picture and say the word.

  • If your child points or gestures to a picture to make a request on their own, say the matching word. Reward them with lots of praise.

Everyone should have a go at using our new communication board and experience a new way to share messages! The more we use our communication board, the more we will be able to enjoy our playground and make new friends.

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