Learning Opportunity

Multi-Modal Communication and Learning Strategies for Children Who Face Significant Challenges including Severe Multiple Disabilities and Children on the Autism Spectrum 2-Day Training

This session has been completed.
Facilitator: Linda Burkhart

This is a multi-day event.

Day 1Mar 17, 2016 (8:30 am to 4:30 pm MDT)
Day 2Mar 18, 2016 (8:30 am to 4:30 pm MDT)
(includes lunch, which is not prepared in a nut/gluten-free environment)
Location: Calgary (Ramada Plaza Calgary Airport)
3515 26th Street NE
Google Map
Session Code: 16-IE-153
Focus: Inclusive Education Leadership

Target Audience

Anyone working with young children or children functioning at young levels, who have difficulty communicating and interacting with others including children with significant physical and multiple challenges and/or young children on the more severe end of the autism spectrum. Information is useful to parents, teachers, speech, occupational & physical therapists and other support personnel.

About this Learning Opportunity

Children who face significant physical and multiple challenges as well as those children on the more severe end of the autism spectrum, often struggle to access communication, interaction and learning. Some children have very little control of moving their bodies, others have difficulty taking in and processing sensory information from their environment, and many find communication and interaction skills challenging. 

This two day presentation will address questions such as:

  • What are we learning from brain research that can help us understand how children learn? 
  • How do we motivate children and provide opportunities for active learning?
  • What strategies help give these children a sense of control and facilitate interaction and communication? 
  • How does the child on the severe end of the autism spectrum perceive the world and how does this impact learning and communication? 
  • How does Cortical Visual Impairment impact learning? 

This workshop will introduce the concept of providing a receptive aided language learning environment and demonstrate how learning alternative and augmentative forms of communication can and should parallel the developmental process that typical children go through in learning speech.  We will also take a brief look at Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) Communication books developed by Gayle Porter, in Melbourne, Australia. (Please note: This is not an official "Introductory PODD" course, which would require another two full days training.)

By participating in this workshop, you will be able to:

  • Discuss how the brain develops and describe implications for  teaching and learning for those students who are developing differently.
  • Describe strategies for increasing motivation, cognitive engagement, and active participation in the learning process.
  • Discuss a variety of ways to adapt materials to facilitate cognitive and communication skills in young children.
  • List characteristics of students who have cortical visual impairment along with other multiple disabilities, and describe useful strategies to help develop vision and communication skills.
  • Describe strategies that help the child who are on the severe end of the autism  spectrum, develop skills in receptive, expressive and cognitive  processing language skills.
  • Describe how to utilize  what is known about how typical children learn language and apply these principles to creating a multi-modal communication learning environment for children who face complex challenges.
  • Briefly explain how the use of Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) provides an appropriate tool for children at the beginning stages of language development and describe how to implement this in natural contexts.

This learning opportunity is being provided through funding from Alberta Education.

About the Facilitator

Linda Burkhart is an internationally known pioneer in the field of simplified technology for children with severe challenges. She has developed numerous adapted switches and innovative applications for using these devices with children. She is the author of a number of books and software titles on topics of assistive technology and augmentative communication.

Linda was a classroom teacher for fifteen years. Subsequently, she worked as an Augmentative Communication and Assistive Technology Specialist for the Centre for Technology in Education - a joint project between the Johns Hopkins University and the Maryland State Department of Education. Currently, Linda works as a private consultant and technology integration specialist.