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The MELD Project: A Language and Literacy Initiative for PreK Children with Complex Communication Challenges

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Early childhood practitioners recognize complex communication challenges and their implications for children in the development of interpersonal relationships, learning, and future academic and personal success. In the rural panhandle of Florida, a multidisciplinary team of practitioners are collaborating to improve the language and literacy skills of children who are nonverbal or have complex communication challenges. The Multimodal Early Language Development Project (MELD) addresses the needs of this population through three primary strategies:

A. Implementation of the TELL ME language and literacy program, a developmentally-appropriate, classroom-based approach to literacy activities that supports core language skills and engages families in using literacy, language, and AAC activities at home;
B. Development and use of WordPower60 Basic AAC vocabulary to support acquisition and expressive language using speech generating devices and manual communication boards; and
C. Ongoing professional development for early childhood multidisciplinary teams, including training, coaching, and consultation, to ensure practitioners have the essential knowledge and skills needed to be effective with this population.

Effective teaching of PreK children with complex communication challenges requires careful planning, individualization, and explicit teaching of core vocabulary and interaction skills through numerous and diverse learning opportunities. Our goal is to provide necessary supports to preschool children, teachers, therapists, and families so that children may improve their communication, language, and literacy skills, and be ready to enter kindergarten with initial AAC systems in place.

Author(s):

Kim Galant    
Technical Assistance and Training Project for PreK (TATS)
United States

Carole Zangari    
Nova Southeastern University
United States

Nancy Inman    
Speech-Language Pathologist
United States

Rena Carney    
Saltillo Corporation
United States

Lori Wise    
University of Miami Center for Autism and Related Disabilities
United States

 

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