Frustration is a classic game that one of my classes chose to buy with their pocket money (Residential school). The one we have is the slamtastic version. It is brilliant for developing a range of skills. The flip paddles add a brilliant tactile element to the game. The class was a mixed group of 6 14-16 year old teenagers all of whom had a diagnosis of Autism, the range of needs was broad however and we needed inclusive activities that would allows verbal and AAC users to interact. Interestingly this was the first class I had taught that had two girls in. Social interaction and shared positive experiential learning were high on my planning requirements.
What is an AAC Game
We are always on the lookout for games that can be adapted and used for social interaction and communication work. These have to be motivating, good quality, reliable and accessible – Frustration meets these requirements. Sometimes they can be played as is and sometimes you need to adapt the rules to meed other needs better. For example some children may need to focus on delivering or responding to instructions. Some are working on colour recognition. Other children may have EHCP targets that relate to motor skills or interaction. The best AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) games allow you to focus on 1 or more of these without creating what looks like “work” or demands. This can be really important for children with PDA or anxiety. All the other games we have used are outlined on our AAC game page.
Adapting Frustration for an AAC game.
Unlike games like Squawk and Gassy Cow Frustration needs to be played with at least one other person. This means interaction levels are higher. I believe that it is important to encourage but never force interaction between peers. With Autism interaction and communication styles vary. It is our role to validate preferred styles and ensure flexibility in our approach to education of autistic children to allow skills to be developed. This may sound unusual to those without experience of working in special education; but if the child is not comfortable sitting around a table you can put the game on a tray and move it between them. My class would after a time sit together for short periods – a well paced game can last under 15 minutes. However due to different processing times for each child some games were much slower.
Knowing when to prompt and when a child is processing an instruction is key to making these sessions work. Choose players carefully or let the children choose is a great way to teach them about each others needs.
I have made two AAC communication boards to allow those who are using colour attributes to practice those. These are basically sentence construction boards and can be linked to colourful semantics. As many settings use different colours I have left them blank. They are made using widgit online which is essential software for anyone who works in SEND. Click the button below to download a PDF with three versions of a communication board of differing complexity.
If you have enjoyed this article please consider sharing it. We would love to hear what games you have used to enhance interaction and communication skills. What games have your children found engaging?