FAQ

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What's a good first button?
Outside and Play are the words you'll see recommended most frequently.Β  What makes Outside a useful starter is that it happens multiple times a day so there’s lots of opportunities for modeling. With the first button the dogs have a lot to learn. They have to learn what a button is, that they can push it, that it makes a sound, that *something* happens when the button gets pressed, etc. Outside doesn’t have to be your first button but those are the considerations you should have in mind when choosing a word. If you only go on a walk once a day then you won’t have very frequent opportunities to model it.

My learner is bad at pressing buttons (digs at them/won't touch them/seem afraid of them), what do I do?
This is my favorite video for teaching a dog to press buttons. It will work with any species of learner. Don’t do this with button that has a word that you want to teach your learner, get a blank one to practice with. You don’t want to confuse them about what the words mean (ie: if your dog gets a treat every time they press Outside, they might think Outside means treat). If you get the sense they're frightened of the noise then practice with nothing recorded or the button off. If you don’t think that that’s an issue then put in a nonsense word (boing, beep, boop) so they get used to the idea that making the button make a noise is the goal. My dog paws at the buttons so right now during button practice he gets *a* treat for any press but a big ol' jackpot for a solid press with one foot and no digging.

Here is a great forum post about teaching button usage.

My learner doesn't seem to understand what different buttons mean?
Keep modeling! Always respond to a button press, even if you think it's not what your learner means. If your learner hits a button and you know she means something else you still need to respond as if it’s sincere. That’s how they learn that different buttons mean different things. If you’re always guessing the thing you think she means and doing that, then she doesn’t have any incentive to make herself clear and it can muddy the waters if she *does* mean what she presses and/or is trying to express something new.

This could also be a space issue. If you have a lot of buttons close together it may be difficult for your learner to tell them apart. Here is a very good post about board layout.

My learner was doing well but now they've stopped pressing buttons entirely!
Have you made any big changes to your setup recently? This frequently happens when teachers make changes too quickly. Changes like switching out buttons for a different brand, moving the buttons to new locations, adding tiles under the buttons, or adding new words too fast. If you're moving a button to a new location do it slowly, we're talking a couple inches a day. If you're swapping in new buttons do it one at a time. Introduce one tile under one button rather than setting up a whole soundboard at once. Each of these changes is a whole new thing for your learner, so give them time. And if you think you went a little too fast, it's OK to go back a step or two to a setup you know your learner was confident with.

My learner is pushing the buttons way too much!
A lot of learners go a little crazy with the buttons once they realize they can make you do things with them. This is good! It's learning! It's also a good time to introduce the All Done button. A good discussion of that is here. If your learner is chewing up tiles and/or buttons and you're worried about them damaging themselves or the soundboard, here is an excellent video about tackling that issue.

What does this word combo mean?
You know your learner better than anybody! What do you think they mean? If it's not obvious, think about different ways your learner could be using language. If it's not a request, could it be descriptive? Could your learner be narrating what's happening now, or what happened in the past? Could it be informative? If it doesn't seem like any of that but you don't think it was just an accidental button press, maybe it was just experimentation. When toddlers are learning to speak they might string together a lot of words that don't make sense. It's nothing to worry about, just make sure you're modeling the buttons and responding to the presses accordingly.

How do I track my learner's progress?
Having a camera on the board is extremely helpful. There are several threads about what cameras work best in Tech Support. I use the app Alfred with an old phone.

Here is a link to info about the official study and a template for setting up a Google Form to track button presses. There is also an app in development and this will be updated with info about that when it's ready.

Is my learner behind?
Nope! This movement has spread over social media and you don't see very many learners there who aren't having amazing conversations. It's really easy to compare What About Bunny or Billie Speaks to your learner who keeps confusing Walk and Tug and worry that your learner isn't as smart or you're doing something wrong. But those are learners and teachers who've been working for months and months at this! Bunny has been using the buttons for over a year. Every learner will learn at a different speed, and also every learner will have different interests. It's OK if your learner never gets to the point where you can discuss philosophy together. The important thing is your relationship with your learner and their ability to express what they want to express.Β 
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