Core vocabulary is a small set of simple words, in any language, that are used frequently and across contexts (Cross, Baker, Klotz & Badman, 1997).
Ideally, when someone uses an AAC device to speak, their device will have as many core words as possible on the main page so that those words are easily accessible. This will allow them to communicate quickly and efficiently by combining core words into phrases.
If a device user is in the early stages of language development and they are starting to put two or three words together, their core word phrases might include, want eat, need drink or like that (similar to what you would hear from a toddler who is starting to talk). These aren't full sentences but the message that is being communicated is evident.
Carter has been combining two and three words on his talker for some time now. He is starting to add more words to his phrases and he continues to surprise us with the things he comes out with. The other day he was watching The Lion King and I heard him comment, "The weather is stormy." Indeed, there was a storm happening in the movie. Then the scene changed, the sun was rising and Simba (the lion cub) was jumping on his dad (Mufasa) trying to wake him up. Carter didn't miss a beat. He spoke up and said, "Good morning, lion."
I always knew that Carter understood a lot more than he was able to demonstrate. With his talker, he's finally able to start showing us just how much he 'gets'. His utterances are getting longer and more involved. In fact, he is now using location words like on, in, under, up, down, etc.
One of his favourite books is a book by P.D. Eastman. It's called Go, Dog. Go! For Carter any book that has dogs in it is a hit, but this book is doubly awesome because it has dogs and it's full of all kinds of great vocabulary that he can practice on his 'talker' when we read together.
I love the book too. It's funny and creative and it's a great way to introduce and practice several language concepts like colours, location words, and some verbs as well (go, work, play, like).
Jack and Taylor are now at a stage in reading where they are able to read the book with Carter. I love seeing my kids huddled together on the couch sharing books. When it's a book they all enjoy and it helps with Carter's language development, all the better.
Go, Dog. Go! gets five stars from this family -- a great book for language development and for fun family reading time.
***Follow this link for a great article about Literacy for Children Who Use AAC (Robin Hurd, AAC Institute). At the end of her article, Robin lists some other great books for kids who use AAC devices.