Three speech pathologists from the Communication Access Network recently completed their Foundation Training for Talking Mats. Talking Mats is a tool that provides a framework to help people communicate more effectively.
The concept of Talking Mats is deceptively simple. It is a low tech resource which is easy to use with people who can read or recognise pictures. The communication partner or “listener” uses a mat as an aid. Along the top of the mat, pictures are used to represent a continuum or visual scale. This allows the participant to indicate their feelings about topics and options. The scale is adapted to suit the questions being asked for example, whether they “like”, “are not sure” or “don’t like” something or someone. Once a topic is chosen eg. “activities” or “people”, the participant is given options one at a time and asked to think about what they feel about each one. The symbol options are presented as pictures, photos or words. The participant then places the symbol somewhere along the visual scale to indicate what they feel.
The challenge in using Talking Mats is in selecting the right visual scale and considering all the vocabulary needed to address the chosen topic area. During the training, “listeners” are taught how to use mind mapping to generate vocabulary around particular topic areas.
Talking Mats will be a great resource for helping people to plan and to determine priorities for life goals and activities – particularly with the roll out of the NDIS. Use of a Talking Mat focuses the participant’s attention and reduces memory demands. It also allows the person time to process information and to respond in his or her own time. It improves the quality of information because it gives control to the person being interviewed and provides a structured framework for open questions. And it allows for the personalisation of information relating to relevant and important life issues.
Karen Bloomberg, Bronwen Jones and Libby Brownlie undertook the inaugural Foundation Training Course run by Tracey Bode at Zyteq. Tracey currently is the only qualified Talking Mats facilitator in Australia. Tracey and her colleagues at Talking Mats in Scotland are hoping to grow the facilitator base in Australia.
Further Foundation Training is available through Zyteq.
There will also be a Talking Mats pre-conference Foundation workshop at the 2017 AGOSCI Conference offered by Lois Cameron, one of the founders of Talking Mats from Scotland.
When people have completed a Foundation Course they may be considered for the 3-day facilitator workshop developing the skills needed to teach the Foundation Course training package.
By Karen Bloomberg