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Symbolic Levels of Communication. 4 Levels of Communication. Awareness Pre-symbolic Early Symbolic Symbolic. Awareness Level. Students at the awareness level may have no clear response and no clear intent or objective in communication.

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4 Levels of Communication

  • Awareness

  • Pre-symbolic

  • Early Symbolic

  • Symbolic


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Awareness Level

  • Students at the awareness level may have no clear response and no clear intent or objective in communication.

  • They communicate pleasure, displeasure and state of being by such means as:

    • Postural shifting

    • Limb movements

    • Head movements

    • Facial expressions

    • Vocalization

      Adapted from Browder, Wakeman, and Flowers, AERA Presentation, 2007.


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Awareness Level

When teaching students at the awareness level:

  • Respond to communicative attempts as if they were intentional (Use shaping to build intentional communication.)

  • Give opportunities to respond before prompting

  • Use real objects when possible

  • Expose them to symbols and words

  • Teach broad access skills

  • Model, Model, Model, and Model


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Sample Objectives –Awareness Level

  • Given multiple daily opportunities, Javiar will use a one location voice output device to respond to two questions in one functional and one academic group activity for 3 of 4 probe checks each 9 weeks.

  • After listening to a story 10 times for 10 different purposes, Gillian will use eye gaze to select one object from an array of two to represent the main idea for 2 of 3 stories each 9 weeks.


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Pre-symbolic Level

  • Students at the pre-symbolic level demonstrate purposeful, intentional communication but do not yet use symbolic communication.

  • They communicate by such means as:

    • gestures

    • eye gaze

    • purposeful moving to object

    • Sounds

      Adapted from Browder, Wakeman, and Flowers, AERA Presentation, 2007.


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Sample Objectives – Pre-symbolic Level

  • Given direct instruction and multiple practice opportunities, Paul will use eye gaze to select from an array of 3 objects to respond to questions during a group literacy activity with at least 3 responses daily for 3 of 4 probe checks in a 9 week period.

  • Given multiple practice opportunities, Quintan will use personal gestures to interact with peers and adults by indicating choices with at least 4 interactions daily for 3 of 4 probe checks in a 9 week period.


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Sample Objectives – Pre-symbolic Level

  • After listening to a story adapted with symbols and a repeated line 5 times for 5 different purposes, Omar will use his AAC device to read the word/line given an expectant pause cue for 3 of 4 stories each 9 weeks.

  • Given two familiar items, Tyrik will use tactile symbols cards for “equal” and “not equal” to identify items as same/not same with 75% accuracy on 3 of 4 probe checks each 9 weeks.


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Early Symbolic Level

  • Students at the early symbolic are beginning to use symbols for communication with limited vocabulary.

  • They communicate by such means as:

    • Objects

    • Tactile symbols

    • Digital photographs

    • Picture icons

      Adapted from Browder, Wakeman, and Flowers, AERA Presentation, 2007.


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Sample Objectives – Early Symbolic Level

  • Darius will use tactile symbols to interact or comment socially during group or life skills activities or social settings with at least 3 daily interactions for 3 of 4 probe checks in a 9 week period.

  • Given picture icons, Millicent will follow a 3 step routine for one academic task and one functional task with at least one routine completed daily for 3 of 4 probe checks in a 9 week period.


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Sample Objectives – Early Symbolic Level

  • Given digital photos of 4 tasks/leisure choices, Robbie will place a card with the number one to indicate which he would like to do first on 5 of 6 probe checks in a 9 week period.

  • Regina will use picture symbols for push, pull, move left, move right, and stop to indicate which way her wheelchair is being moved for 4 out of 5 trials on 3 of 4 probe checks each 9 weeks.

    Adapted from Courtade-Little, G. & Browder, D. Aligning IEPs to Academic Standards, 2005.


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Symbolic Level

  • Students at the symbolic level speak or have a vocabulary of signs, pictures to communicate.

  • They communicate by such means as:

    • Speech

    • ASL

    • Dynamic Display Devices with an extensive

      vocabulary

      Adapted from Browder, Wakeman, and Flowers, AERA Presentation, 2007.


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Sample Objectives – Symbolic Level

  • Given multiple practice opportunities, Juanita will use ASL to initiate, participate, or comment during life skills, social, or academic activities 3 times daily for 3 of 4 probe checks in a 9 week period.

  • Given multiple practice opportunities, Kendall will use up to 4 digital pictures to retell a story or personal event in sequence one opportunity daily for 3 of 4 probe checks in a 9 week period.


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Sample Objectives – Symbolic Level

  • After selecting from an array of 3 writing topics including personally significant events or familiar routines, Johnny will use picture communication symbols and the words first, next, and last to tell a story in sequential order 2 times weekly each 9 weeks.

  • After counting two sets of up to 10 objects, Kyle will use picture communication symbols to indicate if the sets are equal or not equal for 4 of 5 sets on 3 of 4 probe checks in a 9 week period.


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