Metaplay 3

July 17, 2009

Turns out, I’m not quite ready to do the play vocab list yet. I haven’t introduced the whole framework. I should explain the framework before I fill it in. There’s a bunch of categories I need to outline and define.

The whole thing makes something of a matrix when it is done. This is a rough draft: you are seeing it pretty much at the same time as I am so wish me luck.

Here we go.


We can improve on this.

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Last post I talked about metaplay as an important type of language output that is particularly difficult to program into AAC due to its unpredictability and dynamicism.

The imaginary reality that children are engaging in is referred to as a play frame. The play frame can be something established and obvious (I’ll call these “off-the-rack frames”) or it can be something improvised in the moment. If the children are playing House, that’s mostly an off-the-rack frame that we can mostly prepare for. If the House gets overrun by zombies (or worse, as my 7-year-old cousin decided, zombies piloting robot armor suits) our off-the-rack AAC programming for the House frame is going to be inadequate.

The end goal here is to make the AAC system programmed by the players as part of the play. Play frames are co-constructed, so talk about the play frames needs to be co-constructed as well.The action in the play itself programs the device.

I'm the store worker, okay? Pretend you're buying something from me.

I'm the store worker, okay? Pretend you're buying something from me.

And, no, I haven’t the foggiest idea how to implement that in the Real World™. I’ve talked to the foremost experts in the field of AAC and none of them know how either (if they think about it at all). It certainly isn’t possible with the hardware and software available today, nor do current attitudes regarding AAC held by professionals doing the teaching lend themselves to implementing something this radical.

I do have some ideas for how we can structure an off-the-rack schematic setup in an existing AAC system. Here is something that you can use today to make a schematic theme for play within a specific play frame.

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June 3, 2009

Disclaimer: Please excuse the half-formed randomness in this post

Imaginary play shares a lot of features with improvisational theater. It is an emerging narrative that no one participant controls, turns are dynamic and responsive from moment-to-moment, and, most frustrating to programming AAC, the meaning of any action may change as the result of future actions!


Children are playing in dressup area:

Child 1: takes coat from coat rack and puts it on.

Child 2: Are you going to work? Have a nice day.

Same scene, different narrative:

Children are playing in dressup area:

Child 1: takes coat from coat rack and puts it on.

Child 2: That’s on sale today. Eleventeen percent off.

One child initiates an action and the second child defines the meaning of that action. This is why “scripts” in an AAC system can’t work. A child needs to be able to keep up with an uncertain, unfolding narrative. If the first child had an AAC system, if that system was set for “playing house,” it would be useless in crafting a response to Child 2 in the second example.

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September 23, 2008

I watched two small girls playing on campus today outside the Creamery. While they ate their ice cream, they played a game where every time a bus would come by, they would race to see who could read out the number on the side of it first. If they said it at the same time, there was apparently some sort of “jinx” involved. They did this for quite a while– at least ten minutes.

CATA bus

CATA bus

No grown-up would invent such a game. It is too… frivolous. And in some ways, too obvious.
The thing that I found so fascinating about it was that the rules to this game seemed to spring up spontaneously, out of thin air. One second they were eating ice cream and the next second, “EIGHTY-EIGHT! Jinx!”

What access to metaplay communication do AAC kids have? How do we increase their ability to regulate the flow of play scenarios and games they find themselves in? Especially given the fact that we cannot anticipate the rules of games that occur spontaneously.