1 Sep 2012

Supporting Lámh Users at School (Magazine Article)


The child who uses Lámh will have already have a communication programme or plan in place, which will provide useful guidance to those now supporting them in school. Families will be experienced in using the child’s communication system, and will play a key role in providing initial and ongoing information to SNAs, teachers and others.

In the classroom, if those around the Lámh user can become familiar with Lámh signs and use some signs themselves, the child will have the opportunity to participate in school life from the start. Along with school staff, classmates are also very important communication partners. They are often enthusiastic signers as well as being interested in learning about Lámh. Sign users are more likely to use sign with someone they have seen signing. The most effective way to use signs is to include them in day-to-day activities and routines. Using Lámh in context also ensures that the signs being used are relevant and will support the child’s communication:

Use signs in natural contexts e.g. circle time or when giving instructions to the class

Offer opportunities for making choices to encourage sign use e.g. red marker or blue?

Try structured opportunities for sign practice within routines

Introduce topics of conversation that will be of interest to the child e.g. family holiday.

(based on Beukelman & Mirenda)

Teachers can attend Lámh training organised by local service provides, or by the Special Education Support Service (SESS) www.sess.ie . SNAs and other support staff attend training organised in a variety of ways see here.


*Beukelman, D. R., & Mirenda, P. (2005), Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Supporting Children And Adults With Complex Communication Needs, Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. *

Frontline Magazine, Vol 88