Student Y – Developing language and communication

About Student Y

Student Y is a sociable year 7 student at a special school. He completed his primary education at a mainstream school. Student Y has Downs Syndrome, a developmental delay, mild to moderate hearing loss and gross and fine motor skills delay.

Student Y is very vocal and likes to copy the sounds he hears around him. He communicates using a mixture of spoken words, Makaton signs and communication boards. It can be difficult for people to understand him if they are not familiar with him. Student Y benefits from high levels of sensory and physical learning.

Aims of CENMAC support

One of the key aims for Student Y during his final year at primary school was to develop his language and communication skills. It can be very frustrating for Student Y when people cannot understand what he is trying to say.

Another aim was to develop Student Y’s mark-making skills and to increase his confidence to draw pre-writing shapes and individual letters.

A further aim was to develop Student Y’s understanding and sequencing of stories so he could retell familiar and well-known stories.





Case Study: Student Y

Technology used to support Student Y’s aims

Super Core 50 app

To support Student Y’s communication, he was introduced to Super Core 50 on the Grid for iPad. Student Y’s Advisory Teacher Mary Long trained the team supporting Student Y including key school staff, his speech and language therapist, his parents and Student Y how to use Super Core 50 on the Grid app so that he could receive consistent support and encouragement.  

Student Y quickly leant the fundamentals of the Grid app particularly the location of highly motivating items that he wanted to request. He loved being outside and playing in the school garden, and very quickly learnt how to navigate the Grid to find the word ‘garden’ to request to go outside.

Student Y also developed useful alternate ways of using the system such as creating lists of things he expected to have before bedtime or as part of his morning routine.  Student Y has become very attached to his communication iPad and enjoys using it to participate in games and request items. 

Apps to support access to the curriculum

To help Student Y access the school curriculum he also has a second iPad. To help support Student Y’s mark-making skills apps such as LetterRoute, Writing Wizard and StartDot were added to Student Y’s curriculum iPad so he could have a range of fun and motivating ways to practice handwriting with the Apple Pencil. 

To help support Student Y’s understanding and comprehension of stories Pictello was added to his curriculum iPad to create simple stories then Student Y used the picture support to retell the story. 


For Student Y to succeed with Grid for iPad it was beneficial to train the whole team supporting him so there was a consistent approach between school and home. Experimenting with the app and repetition were a necessary part of exploring the new AAC device and language learning for Student Y. 

Student Y also benefited from having a set time of day and duration for practicing core skills to feel more in control of his day and to understand what was expected at different times of the school day. 

Would you recommend CENMAC?

We asked Student Y’s Mum if she thought that his language and communication have developed as a result of the support he has received from CENMAC.

Student Y’s Mum “We have been very happy with the CENMAC support we have received for Student Y. We have noticed that he is more interested in selecting and copying words from the Grid. He likes to add new words to reflect his interests, and to make sentences and sequences of words. He is more engaged and in control of his communication since using his AAC communication device and apps. We would definitely recommend the CENMAC service.” 


Screenshot of Student Y's Super Core 50
Screenshot of Student Y's Super Core 50

About the Technology

We use the following technology to support Student Y with his communication and access to the curriculum.

Super Core 50 PCS

Super Core is an easy-to-use core vocabulary designed to help early AAC users experience success with symbol communication. It combines a consistent core vocabulary with context specific language, focusing on daily routines and play activities to keep communication meaningful and motivating!

Grid for iPad by Smartbox

Grid for iPad is a communication app from Smartbox Assistive Technology that gives a voice to people without speech. It includes instant access to resources for symbol and text communication and includes content for different ages, conditions and levels of literacy.

LetterRoute app

LetterRoute is a tracing app where a child places their finger on a train, car or cycle and follows a route that corresponds to either a letter or number. It gives children who love vehicles a chance to practice letters.

Writing Wizard app

Writing Wizard is an educational app used to help children learn how to write the alphabet, numbers and words through a fun system carefully designed to maintain motivation.

StartDot app

StartDOT benefits beginners or children needing a little extra help to become successful writers. Uncover the “how to” mystery of handwriting with this fun and easy teaching method.

Pictello app

Pictello is an iOS app by AssistiveWare which allows users to create and share visual social stories and schedules. Adding your own pictures, videos and recordings to stories you create makes it easier to share information while building literacy skills, as well as confidence in storytelling.

Apple Pencil

Apple Pencil is used for drawing, note‑taking and marking up documents. It is intuitive and precise and easy to use.

Grid by Smartbox
LetterRoute app and Writing Wizard app
Pictello app and StartDot app