How teacher training helped Sophie’s communication at school

June 16, 2021
Personal Perspectives
By Reframing Disability
Disability School Support

Sophie has Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). Combining sounds into words, and words into sentences is very difficult and people can’t readily understand her speech attempts. From the age of 18 months we learned to use Key Word Signs so Sophie could communicate. By the time Sophie began school, as a result of everything we had done she’d had a language explosion. She knew 180 signs and was combining signs to make sentences and her speech was increasing along with her signs.

Because language and intellect grow in an intertwined process in the brain, by giving Sophie an alternative language (Key Word Signs) that she could use effectively to communicate, as her Key Words Sign (KWS) language took off, so did both her intellectual development and her capacity to show us what she was capable of. In Key Words Sign, she could spell her name, sign the whole alphabet, count to 20, count backwards from 10 to zero and much more.

In January 2019, she started Kindergarten in a mainstream class with a teacher and a teacher’s aide who did some Auslan sign training before she began. Signs gave Sophie a means to communicate and a way to demonstrate that she is a bright and hardworking little person, she had already learned a second language to supplement English so that others could understand her.

In 2020, she’s is in year 1 and passionately learning to read, write, do maths, draw and she is a happy little chatterbox, communicating constantly with her signs and speech.


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