Benefits of Minspeak
Using Multi-Meaning Icons
A normally developing three year old has a vocabulary of more than 1,100 words. If you wanted to simulate that vocabulary on an AAC device using single meaning pictures, you would need 1,100 pictures. To organize all of those words in an AAC device, you would either need a massively big display that could show 1,100 pictures or you would need to divide those words across multiple pages. With 50 pictures per page, you would need 22 pages of words. Imagine how many pictures and pages you would need to match the vocabulary of an 8 year old or an 18 year old!
The alternative is to use multi-meaning icons in a Minspeak system. If the child or adult has 50 Minspeak icons and each icon represents 5 core words, that person can say 250 words!
50 pictures x 5 core words = 250 core words
1 = an action concept
2 = a location concept
3 = a time concept
4 = a descriptive concept
5 = a little word
If each of the 50 icons represents 10 core words, then you can say 500 core words with only 50 icons. Imagine if each of the 50 pictures also represented a category of nouns. With 10 or more nouns in each category, the vocabulary grows to well over 1,100 words. This is the power of multi-meaning pictures and Minspeak.
Benefits of Multi-Meaning Icons
- The person only has to learn a small set of pictures, not hundreds or thousands of pictures.
- Pictures stay in a fixed location on a main display and there is no need to search through pages of pictures to say a word.
- Pictures are combined with a consistent set of rules or patterns, making the system easier to learn and use when more words are added.
- Minspeak patterns promote the power of motor automaticity to talk.
The Power of Motor Automaticity
Whenever a motor skill (or pattern or plan) is practiced over and over - such as using vocabulary on a Minspeak device - two things occur: simplification and automaticity.
Simplification involves leaving out unnecessary movements and reducing effort.
Automaticity is the ability to do something without thinking about it.
As you execute a motor skill (or pattern or plan) again and again, it gradually requires less of your attention and less of your energy. It becomes increasingly automatic until it is "second nature" - almost as if it were a built-in reflex. As your motor pattern and plan become automatic, you can increasingly devote your attention to some other useful task, such as thinking about WHAT you want to say, not what pictures to push to say it.
Each word in a Minspeak system has a unique motor pattern or plan. The same set of motor movements always results in the same word, phrase, or sentence. Using a small set of multi-meaning pictures on the buttons of a single display, the person learns the patterns needed to combine the buttons in short sequences to speak words. As the person becomes more proficient, with practice, the need to search and think about the pictures is significantly reduced and the movement and the word become increasingly linked together and easier to carry out. In contrast to a page-based system with hundreds or even thousands of single meaning pictures, there is infinitely less need to visually re-focus or re-orient to a new display or page.
Although motor automaticity can begin to show benefits at a very early stage, with practice, its full power becomes increasingly realized. The more automatic a motor sequence becomes, the more likely it is to be included in a new creative act - such as speaking a new word or building a new sentence.
In meaningful activities, provide the appropriate level of motor assistance to help the child or adult practice accurate motor movements to develop accurate motor patterns.
Levels of Motor Assistance when learning Minspeak
- Help the individual become familiar with the locations of the icons on the main Minspeak overlay. Name and touch each icon on the main overlay. By becoming familiar with this limited set of icons, the user can quickly move on to learning to combine them with motor planning.
- Provide hand-over-hand (or rather hand-under-hand) assistance to select buttons or keys on the Minspeak device. Help create a "channel" to guide the person's hand to the button or key they need to select. Let the person take as active of a role as possible in the motor movement. Do not force the movement of his/her hand as this will result in "muscle resistance" to the movement. For individuals using a switch, it may be necessary to assist them in the movement of their body part to the switch.
- Provide visual prompts to help select the correct icon (e.g., point directly at the icon, use a light to point at the icon).
- Provide visual prompts to the general area of the correct icon.