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For people who have a history of communicating and are dealing with an acquired disability, the assessment seeks to restore function to a level previously known. For people who have a developmental disability and have little or no history of communicative function, the assessment seeks to identify barriers to the development of communication and provide accommodations so that the person can express their ideas, feelings, opinions and quandaries. The assessment can be done when a child is young, as in pre-school age, and all the way through to adulthood. Whatever the person’s age, the standard is typical development. Our focus is how we might assist that person to participate in activities along side their typically developing peers.
Topics covered in the assessment manual
- the controversy
- best practice
It helps to go into this process with a positive attitude, a posture of openness, a readiness to succeed. This does not mean that you cannot be skeptical or question the outcome as you get started. It is natural to have those questions in your mind as you support the communicator. “Is he really communicating?” “Is that him or me?” How will I know that it is truly him and not me?” Those questions can shut you down, or they can spur you on to be a really good facilitator. In truth, a facilitator should consistently be clear about who is selecting the target and look for those moments when you know that you are hearing from the communicator. A good facilitator watches, feels and listens with an attitude of openness.
When you watch someone successfully support a person for communication, it looks simple and easy. It is quite the opposite. As a facilitator you are doing several important tasks all at once. It takes focus and concentration and a skill set that is best learned through practice.
The following topics are covered in the Getting Started Manual
- Getting Started - What You Bring
- Foundational Principles
- Presuming Competence
- Getting Started - The Facilitator’s Role
- First Steps
- Second Steps
- Turning Practice into Communication
- Communication Breakdowns
- Hearing from Others
- As You Go Forward…
- Checking Neutrality
- What if…
- Balancing the Various Supports
- Best Practice
- Making a Plan
- The Controversy
- Sensitive Information
Within the framework of Facilitated Communication Training (FCT), Skill Building is a time of strengthening the basic set of skills, increasing the fluency of typing and expanding the level of complexity in the communicator's expression. Whereas in Getting Started the focus is one of defining your role as a facilitator, Skill Building zeroes in on refining your role as a facilitator. It is in this stage that you begin to 'hand back' to the communicator some of the skills that have been a part of your support.
This is a time of change in how you practice together and the structure of your communication. In the beginning you had to do some careful thinking about how to phrase the question and what kind of activities would be meaningful and interesting to the communicator. You used questions that were highly predictable so that you had a chance to feel the movement, determine intentionality, discriminate directionality, and distinguish between productive and unproductive movement. As this becomes clear, it is not necessary to stay within the realm of predictability, but ease toward an openness where you do not know what or how the communicator will respond.
It is important to push toward open communication and not get stuck in the 'land of the predictable response.' While the higher levels of structure, such as yes/no or one-word answers, can net authentic responses, it is at open communication that you have the chance to see and hear a person's full authentic voice.
The following topics are covered in the Skill Building Manual
- Assessment - Progress Update
- Skill Building - What You Bring
- Foundational Principles - A Deeper Understanding
- Presuming Competence - A Lifetime Journey
- Reaching for Open Communication
- Keeping the Communicator in the Center of the Communication
- Natural Communication - The Improv Way
- Independence - How does it Start?
- Message Passing - What is it all About?
- Developing a Protest Strategy
- As You Go Forward…
- Where are Your Eyes?
- What if…
- Expanding the Circle of Support
- Best Practice
- The Importance of Documentation
- The Importance of Networking
- The Importance of Training
Independence is a huge goal that encompasses all of life. It can mean tying your own shoes and dressing yourself. It can mean living on your own, attending college and going out with friends - no parents allowed. All aspects of independence are valuable and contribute to a person’s well being. This manual defines independence as that which conveys the authenticity of the communicator’s voice. The goal of independence has to embrace and uphold the voice of the communicator.
Classically independence for those who use FCT means typing without physical support. Consider, however, other possibilities. Consider reading your text aloud, saying the words you type before you type them, using gestures, postures, facial expression and regular action in combination with your typed message in order to convey your intent. That’s independence. Consider initiating the act of pointing, using the delete key and punctuation markers on your own as you type. Consider bringing in your other hand to independently hit the space bar. These are examples of independence. Most of them can be learned early in the process. All of them are a part of best practice.
Independence training takes commitment from both the communicator and the facilitator. However, facilitators should take the lead in mapping out the steps and providing the encouragement to practice. Facilitators help by using the minimum level of effective support and regularly exploring the possibility of fading. Facilitators need to begin with the firm belief that it can happen and an ability to explore and problem solve 'how' it might happen.
The following topics are covered in the Independence Manual
- Independence - what you bring
- The shifting role of the facilitator
- Aspects of Independence
- Presuming Competence
- Making a Plan
- Foundation Elements
- Total Communication
- Two-Hand Typing
- Typing to Talking
- Being a Responsible Communicator
- As you go forward...
- Learning from Others
Guide to Coaches and Trainers
If you are this far in the process of considering the manuals for your growth and learning of the method of FCT, then consider purchasing the entire series. Why? You may have no intention of becoming a trainer or a coach, but each communicator needs a circle of support and someone within that circle needs to take the lead to show others how this works for this individual. While the circle of support can benefit from all the other manuals, the person who takes the lead will also benefit from the orientation that the Trainer’s Guide provides.
As a coach or trainer, your role in supporting others through the various stages of using FCT is vital. You not only impart the proper use of the method, but you insure a successful experience for a communicator and his/her facilitator. You are a part of a larger training group affiliated nationally and internationally. That means the work you do impacts how FCT is understood, implemented and regarded globally.
This guide is intended to support your work as a trainer/coach. The separate manuals provide information on various aspects of the method and suggest activities for facilitators and communicators to try in their practice. Your job will be to strengthen their understanding of the various concepts and steer them toward activities that are a good fit for them. One of the biggest challenges of being a trainer/coach is to tailor your teaching to the learning style and needs of the individuals you are working with. For instance, some people can see something once and they have it. Others need lots of demonstration or more explanation before it 'comes together' in their minds. Your skill in assessing what is needed in a particular situation, along with patience in building those skills, is paramount.
If you are a facilitator that learned easily the skills of support, you may have a larger challenge in teaching others. Those who might be considered 'natural' facilitators often do not know what their skillset is about. They can't describe it or explain it to others but they are really good at what they do. It is like the natural athlete who can't coach. If you are in that category, we honor your skills but you may want to reconsider your plan to be a coach or a trainer. If you are a person who struggled to learn how to support, you bring a valuable process to others. You will understand others' struggle and can help them through emotionally as well as technically.
All coaches and trainers are facilitators first. That means that you draw from your knowledge and your experience using the method. Your attitude as a facilitator must be correct because that is what you impart to others.
So, let’s talk a bit about what your attitude should NOT be. As a facilitator:
- You are NOT Wonder Woman or Superman. You are not there to 'save the day.'
- You are also NOT the fairy godmother or godfather. You are not there to make life right and correct all injustices for this person.
- Finally, you are NOT Ms. Perfection or Mr. Perfection. You are not there to fix the person to the 'just right place' so they can have a better life.
If you hold any of these attitudes, it will be hard for you to be a coach or trainer. You will not have the tolerance for others' process, lack of progress or resistance. You will want to step in and support the communicator directly rather than let them 'flounder' with their new facilitator. As you use this Guide and series of Manuals, take time to examine your attitude toward the work.
This Guide is just that: a guide. It will give you the principles of teaching others and provide ideas for working with the various stages of learning. It will not give you a set plan but will help you know how to make a plan. Experience will be your true teacher. The communicators, families and facilitators you meet will strengthen your understanding of how to proceed, how to train. Becoming a coach or trainer is not an end-game but the beginning of a new route. You bring all that you have learned so far and need to see yourself as a lifelong learner in this process. Most importantly, trust your experience and your knowledge base. You have done a good job in learning the skills as a facilitator. Others will truly benefit from what you know and what you have learned.
The following topics are covered in the Trainer’s Guide
- What is a Coach? What is a Trainer?
- The Gifts You Bring
- Your Tool Box
- Balancing the Needs of the Communicator with the Needs of the Facilitator
- Identifying Movement Problems and Developing Solutions
- Getting Started Goals & Activities
- Skill Building Goals
- Independence Training Goals
- Your 'Other' Toolbox
Because the Trainer’s Guide is connected to all the other manuals, it is not for purchase separately. In addition to using the manuals, teams are encouraged to network with others who are involved with the method. Attend trainings and conferences where you will have a chance to learn from others. Become a member of Wellspring Guild and participate in any way that you can. Check with this and other websites often to update your understanding and strengthen your connections to the work.
Training courses for Coaches and Trainers are being developed at Wellspring Guild.