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Picture for Object Trading - Uffculme School

Picture for Object Trading

We believe that a child’s method of augmentative communication must not only help with communicating basic wants and needs, but also assist in developing skills which are essential for effective verbal communication e.g. approaching people and attracting their attention, taking turns, responding to requests, making, requests, negotiating, commenting and rejecting items in a socially appropriate manner etc. The ‘POT’ communication method provides a means of communication for non-verbal children and young people who have severely restricted intentional communication (approx skills of 10-12 months upwards). The early stages of ‘POT’ communication are entirely based on the act of requesting and centers initially on the person’s wants and later on his/her needs. Further on, this basic form of communication is extended and developed by means of the ‘Sentence Building Programme’ where the vocabulary is extended and he/she also learns to construct sentences in answer to specific questions.

Why ‘POT’ and not ‘PECS’? Uffculme School has developed the ‘POT’ system since the 1990s. It is a ‘work in progress’ and evolves in the light of new research findings in order to continue to suit the needs of our individual pupils. POT is only implemented if assessment indicates that this is the most beneficial/functional method at that time. The communication method is then regularly reviewed to ensure that it remains appropriate.

Whilst there are similarities between ‘POT’ and ‘The Picture Exchange Communication System’ (PECS) there are also some fundamental differences which, we believe, makes ‘POT’ more suitable to meet the needs of our children. The ‘POT’ communication code includes: photos, line-drawings, abstract symbols or even written words – in accordance with pupils’ level of symbolic understanding. The symbol meaning is taught in conjunction with the method of communication to ensure that the system is meaningful and functional from the beginning of its implementation. The immediate aim is always to establish functional communication in the shortest possible time.  Regular re-assessment ensures that the communication method used is the most appropriate for the child at any one time.