Launch of new resource and module, Communication Matters Conference 2023
Tuesday 12th September – launch seminar, Lois Cameron & Katherine Small.
Discount code will be revealed at the seminar giving 15% off the online module with the resource.
Communication is a fundamental human right, yet many individuals with communication difficulties face daily challenges in expressing their thoughts, needs and feelings. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a powerful tool that bridges this communication gap, and Talking Mats is one innovative approach that has proven highly effective in enhancing the lives of those who use AAC.
However, in the 25 years that Talking Mats has been developing resources we have never created one that specifically addresses the needs of AAC users.
The new resource, Supporting Communication with AAC and the online advanced training module, AAC will be launched at this year’s Communication Matters Conference 9th-11th September.
Ace Centre first contacted us in 2018 with the idea of developing a specific assessment resource that would allow the person considering using AAC to express their views about it; were they ready to use AAC, did it fit with their life and communication needs and how much support would be required? This could then inform decisions around referrals onto specialist AAC services.
As with all Talking Mats resources, this one was piloted and discussed and changed until the final version was reached. Thank you to all the practitioners and clients who gave their time and energy in that process. Thank you also to the Scottish Centre of Technology for the Communication Impaired who also collaborated on the resource and the module.
The outcome is a resource that can contribute to both assessments and reviews, and an Advanced online training module, both of which aim to put the AAC user at the heart of decision making about their communication.
Here is a brief outline of the resource and the module.
Supporting Communication with AAC (card and digital resource)
This topic considers the ‘How’, ‘Who’ and ‘Where’ of interactions and helps develop an understanding of the Thinkers communication needs. It can be completed when you are getting to know the Thinker.
Joining in conversations
These topics are designed to help a Thinker explore how they feel about their AAC resource when it comes to joining in conversations and reflect the fact that an individual often uses a combination of communication modes to be effective. The three topic cards are: Verbal conversation, Paper support and Electronic Support.
How your AAC works
This topics explores different ways of accessing the AAC device as well as the different features it has, incluing functions, appearance, sound, and access.
If you are trained in Talking Mats to Foundation level you can buy the resource from our website
AAC Advanced module
To access this course you must have already completed the Foundation Course.
The objective of this course is to ensure that AAC users are at the heart of decision making and that necessary adaptations are in place to support those conversations
The course is split into three different sections:
Aim – to recognise the different topics and who they might be suitable for
Aim – to recognise different positions, places and methods for a Thinker to access a Talking Mat
Aim – to recognise the dynamics in a conversation, and appraise the process of using additional people during a Talking Mat
To successfully complete the course participants must pass the quiz and contribute to the forum telling us about their experience.
Courses will run from the 1st of every month starting in November.
Launch of Resource and Module, Communication Matters Conference 2023
Tuesday 12th September – launch seminar, Lois Cameron & Katherine Small.
Discount code will be revealed at the seminar giving 15% off the online module with the resource
See you there!
Many thanks to Claire Wiseman & Ann Lafferty from The Advocacy Project (Scotland) for this guest blog, including a great example of how Talking Mats helped a young woman with learning disabilities and psychosis share her views about being in hospital, receiving medical treatment and her preferences in respect of future post discharge welfare decisions:
For some time, The Advocacy Project have been thinking about how we could use the Talking Mats Framework to support people going through legislative processes such as the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2000, Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 and the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007.
Recently the Mental Welfare Commission published a best practice guidance on Supported Decision Making – https://www.mwcscot.org.uk/good-practice/guidance-advice, which we referred to as part of our presentation for the recent Talking Mats is 21 celebrations (click here to see the presentation Talking Mats and Supported Decision Making PP 2 (1)). The feedback from this session was that ‘yes’ there is a need for symbols to support legislation. As accredited trainers, we’ve also been asked when we’re delivering training to lawyers, Mental Health Officers, Social Workers, support workers and other advocacy organisations if there are specific symbols related to Supported Decision Making, particularly with regard to legislative issues.
Here is one of the Supported Decision Making and Talking Mats examples shared in our presentation:
One of our staff supported a young woman with a learning disability who was thought to be experiencing a psychotic episode. She had been detained in an in-patient learning disability unit under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 on a Short Term Detention Certificate. The clinical team then made an application for a Compulsory Treatment Order, which was granted. Later, when discharge planning was in progress, an application for Welfare Guardianship was made under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000.
Although the young woman was able to communicate verbally, the effects of the psychosis combined with her learning disability meant that her conversation was discursive and she was very easily distracted. Using a combination of Talking Mats and our additional symbols over a number of sessions, the advocacy worker managed to ascertain her views about being in hospital, receiving medical treatment and her preferences in respect of future post discharge welfare decisions.
The Talking Mats reports were submitted as evidence at two mental health tribunal hearings and the Welfare Guardianship hearing at the sheriff court. We received positive feedback from the Curator Ad Litem, Mental Health Officer and Sherriff regarding the reports as they had never had Talking Mats reports submitted before during these proceedings.
The use of Talking Mats had been instrumental in supporting the young woman to put forward her views and ensuring an outcome she was happy with.
Going forward, Talking Mats and The Advocacy Project will be exploring the possibility of a symbols set for Supported Decision Making and legislation. We are currently looking at funding possibilities.
A fantastic example of the power of Talking Mats – if you have any Talking Mats stories you would like to share, please get in touch! Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org