As you might already know if you follow this blog, Penguin is pretty much non-verbal, or minimally verbal, or pre-verbal, depending on which term you prefer to use. He’s also got a very strong visual sense, which he relies on heavily, for learning, communication, and more.
To play an activity of guessing smells, I couldn’t just ask him to close his eyes, sniff something, then tell me what it is. He won’t want to keep his eyes closed, wouldn’t like being blindfolded, and can’t tell me verbally what scent he’s recognising.
So, to do this activity, I put the items to identify in a glass each. This time we used lemon, apple, and onion.
I then covered each glass in fabric (in this case a discarded t-shirt) and used a piece of pipe cleaner to hold the fabric together (you could use anything that is fairly easy to remove, for revealing the items after guessing).
I also made three pictures, one of each item, with the word in writing on them as well.
Finally, I made sure the words needed were readily available in Penguin’s speech app, so that I could model how to use it (we’re learning) without having to pause to fiddle about with adding missing words etc. You could of course do this activity just as well without a speech app.
When I presented the activity to Penguin, I had placed the correct picture card on top of each item, and we started off by having a sniff to establish that each scent was matching the pictured item for each sample.
I then put the picture cards to the side, shuffled the samples, and gave the picture cards to Penguin, so that he could do the matching.
We had a slight issue with the matching exercise, caused in part by Penguin being very keen on lemon, and in part by us having used PECS for communication when he was younger. (PECS stands for Picture Exchange Communication System, and we don’t use it much anymore as it mainly works for requests, and because a solid AAC system offers so much more). Basically, what happend is that Penguin loved the smell of the lemon, and he therefor gave the picture card to me, to request having the lemon, rather than putting it on the sample.
But with a little bit more explaining, showing and slight prompting, we completed the activity, and revealed the items. And Penguin was then very quick to grab the lemon! 😋