Where to Begin?

Where to begin with Tangible Symbols?

Once you have determined that an individual understands how to communicate pre-symbolically, you will need to answer three questions before you begin teaching the use of Tangible Symbols:

What is the most motivating context in which to start instruction?

Tangible Symbol Systems™ describes an instructional approach that begins with the use of symbols to request something that is desired. If a person has no interest in a particular context or activity, it is unlikely that she will want to communicate about it. Highly motivating contexts and materials should be used that also occur regularly and frequently enough to provide the user with plenty of practice with this new communication system. Obviously, not all communication deals with requesting what one wants, nor can all situations be motivating all of the time. However, to start an individual on the road toward symbolic communication, it's important that there be strong motivation to communicate.

What type of symbol is appropriate?

Always start with the level of representation that the individual can understand.


What behavior will the individual use to select a symbol?

This response depends on the learner's fine motor skills and visual abilities as well on the ability to elicit another's attention. For example, will the learner respond by pointing to or touching a symbol, or by handing a symbol to the teacher? The behavior should be clear to the partner and easy for the user to produce.