Fundamental Communication and Language Skills

August 27, 2021

8.25.21 Our Communication Board is installed!

Just as the communication board finished being mounted to the fence of the playground, who happened by but some children attending daycare this week, with Ms. Shannon. They were excited to see it, and to pose for a picture! See below.

8.18.21 A Communication Board for the Playground

Something that has been on our project wish list for quite some time has been to make a communication board for our playground. There are so many reasons for wanting to do this including:

  • PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) books are cumbersome when you are outside,
  • children lose their PECS symbols outdoors and become upset at not being able to communicate easily,
  • most of the words that children need access to outside are shared with others,
  • a mutually accessible communication board would increase accessibility for all.

So we started this project back in May 2021. All of the classrooms and therapists had a chance to submit the words they wanted to include on a communication board for their students. The words were then organized into categories, and then PECS pictures were found for the words that made the most sense for the most children by the Speech Therapy Department.

A sign was ordered from Matthew’s Signs in Schenectady, and yesterday we picked it up! It still needs to be attached to the playground fence, but when it is we’ll show you that here too!

Matthew is a fantastic guy and we enjoy doing business with him. Check him out when you need signage!

3.23.2021 Communication Skills are Key

It’s been a whole year since this blog spot has been updated, but that doesn’t mean our students haven’t been finding their way to better fundamental communication skills at Crossroads. Not at all.

Here’s a recent look at a speech session where Mrs. Melanie is working with a little guy who is learning to identify the objects that she asks for by name or label. This is a big step for students – hearing the name for something and then matching that to an item out of an array of items.

It’s likely that our young learner started out with a much smaller array – perhaps of one item or two so that success would be inevitable and his correct answers could be reinforced. Gradually, therapists like Melanie work up the size of the array to make the child’s selection more challenging, in order that he learns the word for the object, truly.

Watch the short video below, and view the pictures, and while you do, please honor his progress and Melanie’s work with applause, as these great steps of progress are never easy.


While Crossroads is closed for mandates due to COVID19, our therapists and teachers are scouring the web and finding the best resources to help the families that we serve. You can head to our PARENT RESOURCES page for one spot reading, or click through various links on this website for content-related posts.

Here is a terrific packet discovered by Mrs. Amy, one of our fabulous Speech Language Pathologists.

Supporting Individuals with Autism through Uncertain Times Full Packet

As found at


6.11.19 Our teachers and therapists help students learn so many skills.

One of the most important skill areas for children attending Crossroads is learning to communicate in functional ways.

Learning to ask for what he or she wants and needs will serve him or her all through life, while engaging in behaviors that are non-functional or maladaptive will not. Learning to understand what others say will serve them through life. Learning to follow functional directions – stand up, close the door, get a tissue, sit down – will also. So will being able to identify the parts of their body – my tummy hurts, I banged my head, my throat is dry – and the names of the things they use in life – cereal, pillow, cup…

The understanding that language is how we communicate with others is something that most children at Crossroads are working on. Many of our students are verbal when they come to us. Many are not. For children who are learning about the exchange of language, therapists and teachers often use P.E.C.S. (Picture Exchange Communication System).

To give a simplified explanation, the wanted item is given when the child asks using a picture of it. In this way, the child is reinforced for communicating his/her needs in a functional manner. His asking for it is also reinforced by the teacher repeatedly saying the word for the item. Too, many children begin to mimic the teacher/therapist’s verbal presentation of the word, beginning to speak for the first time.

There are many phases of learning P.E.C.S. Once grasped, the system of communication can transition to assistive technology applications, such as Prologue2Go a favored one on our iPads here at Crossroads.

Mostly these types of communication and language goals are established by our Speech Language Pathologists. Everyone on the child’s team – including his or her parents – carries out the work on the goals here at Crossroads. Together they make a difference for each student.

Thanks for reading! Please add your comments below to share your stories about learning or teaching functional communication.

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