Communication and Behavior Support

Where to find Apps!


Need to find a few good sites to help you find the appropriate applications to use with your child with special needs? 

Here are a few highly recommended sites that review and comment on both the best apps and the new apps:

I Education Apps Review: A community effort to grade educational apps.

SpeechTechie: Simple and interactive technologies you can use in language lessons and intervention.

Speech/Language Pathology Sharing:  How to use modern technologies to facilitate learning of speech-language skills and prepare students with the skills and technologies for their futures.

Moms with Apps:   A group of individual, independent, family-friendly developers who share best practices on making and marketing mobile apps.

iPodsibilities:  One teacher’s thoughts on using iPods and iPads in the classroom.  

See in particular special ed apps:

Geek SLP:  A good source for apps and speech therapy technology.


General Education Links and Resources:

CAYA:  Communication Assistance for Youth and Adults. Provincial
government agency that provides augmentative communication assistance in
BC.  Also check out the SetBC resource list:

FreeTech4Teachers:  Free Resources and Lesson Plans for
Teaching with Technology.  This is a generic education site with great
FREE ideas and downloads to help you use technology better.

Some early reading sites of interest to parents


Starfall is a free public service site designed to motivate children to read with phonics.  The site is kept up-to-date and there are a huge variety of free activities for children to use on their home computer. features animated free reading and writing and learning for kids. Children can even have their own stories published.  The quality is high and the stories are engaging.

The Reading Rockets project is comprised of PBS television programs and online services offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read and why so many struggle. There are lots of ideas and resources for parents here aimed at early and emerging readers.

Learning Disabilities Online is a good place to start learning about Learning Disabilities and ADHD.  It is an American site so some strategies are not applicable in Canada but the site has a huge resource list of links to organizations, free on-line resources and supports.

do2Learn has a wide variety of free resources supporting students with special needs including instruction on bus safety and facial expressions, picture cards, schedulers and print activities.  The site is well-maintained and easy to use.

Learning Tools 4 All contains many free digital text-to-speech tools in one place and supports to help you choose the best one for you and your child.  The site is on a Wiki model and may be a bit hard to use for some people.

Looking for a Support Worker?


The B.C. wide website  Support Worker Central, "Where individuals or families can create job profiles & connect with freelance workers"  For more information, go to 

What If I get Denied for Services by CLBC?


If you are denied services by CLBC at the Facilitator and Analyst level, get the reason in writing. Then it is time to start to develop an advocacy strategy. Gather information, analyze the system, assess the hiearchy, build an argument, and give reasons why CLBC’s rational is wrong. Write your thoughts into a persuasive letter that outlines the issues. Think about who the strategic person is to address the letter to and who is important to carbon copy (cc). Consider advocating with the upper level bureaucrats, your MLA, and the Minister’s office.

Or you can go through the CLBC Complaints Resolution Policy. However, if it was me, I would prefer to keep my advocacy options open rather than follow CLBC’s compliants procedure. What if time and importance is an issue and it makes sense to go right to the top? I guess the question would be for me is… Will following the complaints policy have a favorable outcome or is the process designed as a place where complaints go to die? Also, I would not use the form they supply – it is too limited and negates the ability to cc the letter to a politician. Instead, a well written letter is likely to give more information and be more persuasive.

What do you think? Let’s hear your thoughts.

Tips for Choosing a Behaviour Consultant or Other Professional


            As the summer comes to an end and children head back to school many parents are rolling up their sleeves and beginning the search for a behaviour consultant or other professional to work with their child. For many parents finding the right person for the job can seem like a daunting task. Here are a few suggestions to hopefully make the process a little easier:

1)      Get some help. Looking at lists of names that mean nothing to you just increases the stress level for this process. Talk to people you know and trust in the field or other parents to get some ideas about agencies or individual practitioners. Having a place to start can make all the difference. 

2)      When you talk to a practitioner or agency don’t be afraid to ask about credentials and background. And feel free to ask for references. While all professionals in the field should safeguard their clients’ confidentiality, most consultants will provide the opportunity for you to connect with current or previous clients if you ask.

3)      Ask for a meeting to connect in person with the professional prior to starting any work. They should be just as interested in ensuring their services are appropriate for your family and child as you are about ensuring you are comfortable with the professional’s philosophy and style or approach to programming for your child.

4)      If you like the agency but the consultant assigned doesn’t work for you, ask for another consultant.

5)      Be wary of “lock-in” contracts that obligate you to pay a large sum up-front and/or pay out the contract even if work is not completed. Of course it is expected that you will honour your side of the contract and pay for work completed, but you should also have the option of ending the contract early without penalty (other than paying for work completed) if you are dissatisfied with the work or if situations arise that make it difficulty for you to continue with the contract.

6)      If at first you don’t find a professional that suits you and your family, don’t give up! All consultants and other professionals are not the same, and they don’t all work from the same perspective. There ARE agencies and consultants that will be a good match with your family and expectations.

7)      If you have a bad experience with a consultant or other professional try not to let that colour your entire view of the field. Just like hiring a contractor to renovate your house and then having to fire him for shoddy work or lengthy delays you may hire a consultant who doesn’t meet your expectations. Rest assured, there are people out there who will “fit” your needs and provide the services your child and family require.

Follow Up Thank You Letters


Our daughter made an application to be on the C.A.Y.A (Communication for Young Adults for 19 to 35 year olds with a disability) program and waited for a whole year for services.  They apologized saying that she was still on the waitlist as I kept phoning and writing letters asking when she would be receiving services.  Because there was a period when there was a shortage of speech and language therapists, they were unable to hire and fill three positions.  Finally, she got accepted a year ago and received a DV4 voice output system that has made a world of difference to her that enables her to communicate.  I wrote a letter of thanks to them and was invited to attend the presentation of a 4.2 million dollar grant to C.A.Y.A. by the Minister of Employment & Income Assistance.

1.  Always keep your letters and be patient & persistent!

2.  Writing a follow up "thank you" letter goes a long way.


Positive Behavior Supports


As a parent who has children with disabilities, I know the power of Positive Behavior Supports.

When my daughter was about 11 we started to have problems with her aggressive behavior. It would manifest in hitting, kicking and self-injurious behavior. As she got bigger, it got harder. At that time we were introduced to the concept of Positive Behavior Supports as the agency CBI was contracted to work with my daughter. As a family we began to learn about picture symbols, Boardmaker, schedules and terms such as setting events/antecedants.

What I now know is that communication and behavior support needs to be looked at on a continumn because contrary to MCFD’s practice of short periods of behavior intervention contracts, what is required to have success is consistent support over a long period of time. We can testify to that.

When Angela was 16, CBI faded out of the picture. We are deeply grateful for their help in setting the stage for happier times for our daughter. Then when Angela was about 18 we had the good fortune to meet Brenda Fossett. She got us back on track with respect to Angela’s Communication Plan and in the 7 or 8 years that Brenda has been working with our family/staff group we have watched my daughter become a happier camper. Her behaviors have dropped significantly due to Brenda’s guidance and the efforts of a lot of people to carry out Brenda’s advice.

What I have learned is that my daughter has made progress not because we extinguished her behaviors but because we found ways to improve her quality of life. We made it easier to for her to communicate, we built more flexibility into her schedule, and increased her personal choices. Brenda taught my daughter (and taught us to teach her) to be more independant. My thanks to Brenda for sticking with us through some difficult times.

So thinking back my tips would be:

  1. Find a good consultant (no, you cannot have Brenda). Talk to other parents to find out who is good.
  2. Look at support as a life-long support and take a longer view. Look at PBS as more of a journey.
  3. Educate your family and staff. Behavior can be prevented if you are consistent and plan ahead in all environments: home, school and the community. Try and get the consultatnt and the school to work as a team.
  4. Make sure that you build behavior support in your "plan" with a CLBC facilitator.

I know there are experts out there on this subject who have many other tips that will help families. I would like to invite them to participate. I know first hand how the knowledge of PBS has improved our lives. At the same time, I also know there are many parents and children our there who suffer because they don’t know about PBS. I hope that this section can be a place where parents can pick up tips so they can "get by" until contracted services are in place.