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Wednesday 22 Nov 2017

Participating in holiday pageants and plays

Article written by: Stephanie Ekis, MS, CCC-SLP
With a little creativity, children who are non-verbal, pre-verbal or who need a little bit of communication support can participate in holiday plays and pageants!  Poems and play scripts can easily be added to both mid- and high-tech devices.  It will be necessary for you to work with the school team so that you can plan and spend time well before the play to prepare your child.  The team will need to:

  • Identify the role that your child will take in the play or pageant.
  • Choose the most appropriate lines, songs, etc.
  • Choose the most appropriate method that your child will use to deliver his/her lines.
  • Program the system.
  • Practice, practice, practice!

Mid-Tech Devices:

A mid-tech device (e.g., Boardmaker Activity Pad) is considered any device that that requires a source of power, usually a battery, and is very easy to program.  These types of systems usually require someone to record messages into them, very similar to a tape recorder of yesteryear.  Mid-tech devices are an easy way to allow a child who is non/pre-verbal to recite a poem or message.

High-Tech Devices:

A high-tech device (e.g., DynaVox Xpress) offers much more flexibility, access to vocabulary and the ability to create novel messages using keyboards and core words.  Communication pages can be used to provide your child with the vocabulary they need in order to participate in a play.  Custom vocabulary can also be easily added.  Digital photographs can also be used to make the event more meaningful.

HINT: To promote success when butterflies are fluttering in the stomach, program one large button in the middle of the page with only the poem in it.  That way the chance of accidentally selecting the wrong button is drastically reduced.

No matter what type of device you use, all you need to do is hold the microphone to the speaker of the device so that your child can be heard by people sitting in the audience.  For high-tech devices, you can also connect external speakers.

If your child is a more “behind the scenes” type of person, make sure that you work with the school team to identify ways that they can activity participate.  Designing and creating sets, helping to gather materials for costumes, working the snack counter or greeting guests are all meaningful opportunities to learn new skills and interact with others.  No matter what the task, make sure that your child has the communication tools needed in order to participate to the fullest.

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