Talking Mats can be carried out in person using a physical mat and cards, or in a digital space, for example a tablet, laptop or computer for which we have created one of the best web apps for communication disability. Unless otherwise stated, all the resources on this page are available in both card and digital formats. Below you can see what a Talking Mat is, why it works, and the resources which make it unique.
What is a Talking Mat?
A Talking Mat is a visual communication framework which supports people with communication difficulties to express their feelings and views. Talking Mats can be carried out physically or in a digital space, for example a tablet, laptop or computer for which we have created one of the best apps for communication disability.
Above, you can see an example of a (digital) Talking Mat. It is made up of three sets of picture communication symbols – topic, options and a visual scale – and a space on which to display them.
Once the topic has been chosen, the participant is given the options one at a time and asked to think about each one, placing it on the Talking Mat to indicate how they feel about it.
Why do Talking Mats Work?
Our clinical, research and training experience provides evidence that Talking Mats helps people think about and express their views on a particular topic. There are a number of reasons why Talking Mats is effective.
Talking Mats support comprehension by:
– Helping people process concepts by breaking information down into small, manageable chunks
– Allowing the client time to process information and respond in their own time
– Reducing memory demands
Talking Mats improve quality of information by:
– Handing over control to the thinker
– Providing a structured framework for open questions
– Reducing anxiety
– Supporting people to express how they really feel.
Types of Talking Mat
This is our original low tech communication device.
- Specially designed symbols that are produced in no tear, wipe clean material.
- Packaged in clear plastic wallets with quick reference postcards and guidance booklet.
- Resource bundles come with mat and Fair Trade bag.
Redeveloped in conjunction with MTC Media this new version of the digital talking mat has the following features;
- A video to introduce the resource and how to use it
- Access to over 30 topics, depending on level of subscription
- Ability to choose top scale words and image
- Option to upload your own images to use in a mat.
- Once trained you have the ability to create and keep a ‘Personalised mat’ to use again
- Symbols can appear with text or without text
- Available in English and German
Health and Wellbeing
The Health and Wellbeing resource contains four packs which are based on the World Health organisation International Classification Framework (ICF). These packs include 13 topics to explore various aspects of an individual’s health and wellbeing. The resource is sub-divided into the following packs and topics:
Looking after yourself
Leisure and environment
Consulting Children and Young People
These packs are based on the World Health Organisation International Classification Framework (ICF) and are designed to give a holistic picture of how a child or young person feels about their lives at home at school and in their communities. They take into account the significant developmental changes that occur from 3 to 17 years, as well as the influence of environmental and personal factors surrounding the child or young person.
There are three sets available:
The sets are divided into three topics:
With this set you can explore how the child is growing and developing, by focussing on the functions of the body, as well as skills that are emerging. You can gain an impression of how the child feels he or she is progressing physically, socially, cognitively and behaviourally.
This set focuses on at the child’s lived experience by asking about the activities they participate in, as well as how they feel about the support they receive.
The communities in which children grow up have a significant impact on the well-being of both children and families. This set supports discussion about the child’s wider world, exploring the impact of nursery or school, as well as the support system available to them.
Talking Mats prompts you to cover the relevant topics for the age group you are working with. You can help children and young people to see their personal strengths and abilities; and take time to consider what their problem areas are, as well as what their aspirations might be.
This resource set was designed particularly for individuals in care and supported living settings. It gives a helpful overview of their life, focusing on 3 topics:
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Talking Health and Housing (Digital only)
This resource supports social housing tenants with communication difficulties to say what they think about both their Housing and Health and to improve communication between social housing tenants and health professionals.
This resource is currently only available online on Digital Talking Mats. If you would like to subscribe to our online platform, visit our shop.
This resource was developed in partnership with tenants and staff from Loretto Housing and Care, Stirling University, Napier University and Age Scotland. You can read more about the impact this resource can have on people’s lives here.
These advanced resource sets are only available to those who have completed our Talking Mats Foundation Course.
Eating and Drinking
This resource has been co-produced with the help of people with eating and drinking difficulties and a range of different professionals. It is designed to help people think about, discuss and make informed decisions about how to manage their eating and drinking more safely.
People with eating and drinking difficulties should initially be assessed by a qualified Speech and Language Therapist and Dietitian who will recommend appropriate strategies to help them eat and drink safely.
This resource is particularly useful in helping people understand the effect that their eating and drinking difficulties can have on their health. It also helps people talk about how they feel about recommended strategies.
This resource provides a structured framework to find out how someone feels their life is going and gives them the opportunity to raise any concerns. Developed originally with adults with a learning disability it has also been found relevant to young adults with acquired neurological disorders and young people particularly with mental health issues.
This resource is divided into three topics:
Practitioners can also access our online Keeping Safe advanced course to support them to use this resource.
- If you would like to book onto a Keeping Safe advanced course and also receive the Keeping Safe symbol sets click here.
This resource was developed with Strathcarron Hospice and supports planning for end-of-life care. It can be used to encourage and support conversations about the following 3 topics: