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PODD (or Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display) communication books were developed in Australia by Gayle Porter, originally for children with cerebral palsy. Hey, I’m reading this a bit late so hopefully somebody with some ideas will read this!
How do you start encouraging a nine year old pupil with ASD and ADHD (whose parents do not want to allow him medication) to use PODD sheets for school activities, homes, sessions etc.
PrAACtical AAC supports a community of professionals and families who are determined to improve the communication and literacy abilities of people with significant communication difficulties. This two day workshop will explore the theoretical underpinnings and features of PODD communication books.
Gayle Porter is a Speech Pathologist with over 25 years hands on experience working with people with complex communication needs.
Helen Tainsh is a Speech Pathologist with over 15 years experience working with people with complex communications needs.
Melissa Riepsamen is a Speech Pathologist working with preschool aged and school aged children with complex communication needs. DetailsDetailsThe three 3 x 3½-inch transparent pockets per page can hold a single communication choice or multiple options.
As their use becomes more widespread throughout the world, practitioners are considering the benefits of using them with other clinical populations. Like you we have experimented with using the books with children with ASD but the challenge schools face is keeping such a large book near enough to the most active children to be able to reach for it when they are engaging in an activity. The pupil was born in Uganda, apparently went to school there but moved from school to school, came to England five years ago but never been to school in England. It was founded in 2011 by two SLP professors, Carole Zangari and the late Robin Parker, around a shared passion for AAC. This workshop will educate speech pathologists, teachers and other service providers to construct, modify and individualise PODD communication books to suit the needs of varying clients with complex communication needs.

Gayle lectures both locally and internationally about Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Displays (PODD). Melissa has extensive experience using Augmentative and Alternative Communication with people with complex communication needs. She previously worked in a primary school for children with ASD, where PODD and Aided Language Displays were introduced as part of a school wide approach in order to enhance the communication-friendly environment for all pupils. Their structured organisation and emphasis on visual communication means that they are also a valuable tool for developing the communication of those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (Porter & Cafiero, 2009). The pupil has English as a second language (but parents do not speak it at home), never been in an English school, is completely non verbal and does not understand English language, has no concept of numbers, letters or symbols or what they represent? Participants will learn about the use of PODD communication books for language and communication development with people who have complex communication needs. Gayle works at the Cerebral Palsy Education Centre and the Communication Resource Centre in Melbourne. Helen works at the Cerebral Palsy Education Centre, and has a private practice working with children with complex communication needs in their local schools. In this post, she shares how they used PODD books and aided language input to build the students’ communication skills. Workshop participants will also learn strategies to implement teach and support the use of PODD communication books in a range of environments. She also has a private practice working with both children and teenagers with complex communication needs in their local schools. Melissa has a private practice working with children and teenagers with complex communication needs in their local schools.
Gayle is the co-author of “Integrating Augmentation and Alternative Communication into Principles of Conductive Education”. It is important that children are not forced to use, or even to look at the displays, but that any attempt to use the symbols in a communicative manner was responded to in a positive way.

This reduces the number of page turns which are needed, and therefore increases the speed and efficiency of communication. The biggest challenge when introducing PODD books into classrooms within the school was ‘creating the habit’ among adults in the school. This included the necessity of a child having their PODD book with them at all times, and for staff to use Aided Language to support all of their messages, both when teaching and when talking informally to a child.
As pupils became more familiar with, and dependent on their PODD books being their ‘voice,’ this difficulty lessened, as many children took responsibility for their own books (and often became upset if they were forgotten!) and staff saw the benefits of their efforts. To lessen the enormity of using a whole book, new users were recommended to focus on familiarising themselves with a different pathway each week, and to focus initially on using on the book consistently to communicate a handful of messages, rather than trying to navigate to the vocabulary for every single thing they wanted to say. A year after Aided Language Displays and PODD books were introduced, wide ranging benefits were seen to the children beyond just supporting their expressive communication.
Staff and parents fed back that their use had far reaching effects on pupils’ behaviour, engagement within classes and understanding of information.
One parent reported that ‘I’ve definitely noticed an improvement in his speech [talking] and I didn’t think I’d see that. He’s calmer now, not so frustrated and when he uses the book, when he points to the pictures to tell you, he smiles, ‘cos he knows he’s told you.
He doesn’t get so anxious now, definitely.’  Staff also became more aware of pupils’ capabilities, as nonverbal children were given a structured way to participate and to show their understanding within lessons, such as through labelling shapes, answering questions in literacy and expressing their opinions. Staff were also made to rethink some of their lesson plans, as occasionally pupils used their new-found communication techniques to tell us, ‘I don’t like it, it’s boring’!

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