Functional Core Vocabulary

  • Core Vocabulary is a small set of words that have high frequency use across languages and contexts.
    • 85 % of what we say consists of 200 basic words.
    • It is applicable across various subjects and settings.
  • Most of our AAC programs from low to high tech are based on a Core Vocabulary system.
  • While Core Vocabulary has the highest frequency words used. It is important to evaluate each individuals “core words”.
  • Core Vocabulary vs. Functional Core Vocabulary

While core vocabulary is based on high frequency words, these are high frequency words of typically developing individuals.  Is the traditional Core Vocabulary applicable for individuals with intellectual disabilities or autism?

These are the questions that I have asked about our core language system.

Whose core?

One of the questions that I had time after time as I was working with my students, that ranged from minimal to non-verbal on the autism spectrum, was “are these core words really appropriate for them?” I saw communications screens bogged down with too many “core words” and not enough functional words. Many of these words did not have meaning for my students. Words like “can”, “it”, and “like” were too abstract for my clients.

So I changed the way I viewed my clients/students vocabulary. Instead of communicating from a core vocabulary perspective, I communicated from a Functional Core Vocabulary.

Functional Core Vocabulary

When I am setting up core or my students, I look at:

  1. The level of my communicator
  2. The age of my communicator
  3. Their environment
  4. Their wants and needs.

So I set up a functional core vocabulary system based on their needs. However it is important to create a system that can grow with their communication level. So we don’t throw away the structure of our core vocabulary and structure of our AAC programs, we just make it work better for our clients.

Some ideas to get started:

  • Start with single word buttons and navigation folders
  • Use a subject, verb, and object set up when applicable
  • Create a start page that can be built on.

See our upcoming post Ready…Set.. Go…Start Pages with Functional Corefor more ideas for creating a start page using various AAC programs that is functional and made to grow with A Gift of Speech.

A Gift of Speech: Core Vocabulary, Functional Core Vocabulary, AAC, and Communication!