Talking Mats provides a visual framework to help people express their views using a selection of communication symbols that cover a variety of topics.
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Talking Mats is used by clinical practitioners, social workers, education staff, advocates, carers and support workers in a wide range of health, social care, residential and education settings. Talking Mats products are available as both an original low-tech and digital resource.
The innovative, award-winning Talking Mats communication symbols tool is based on extensive research and designed by Speech and Language Therapists. It uses unique, specially designed picture communication symbols that are attractive to all ages and communication abilities and is used by clinical practitioners, carers and support workers in a wide range of health, social work, residential and education settings.
Whether used for consulting children and young people, used as a stroke communication resource, or used to overcome communication difficulties for people with learning disability or dementia, these communication symbols have proved highly effective.
What is a Talking Mat?
A Talking Mat is a visual communication framework which supports people with communication difficulties to express their feelings and views. Talking Mats can be carried out physically or in a digital space, for example a tablet, laptop or computer for which we have created one of the best apps for communication disability.
Above, you can see an example of a (digital) Talking Mat. It is made up of three sets of picture communication symbols – topic, options and a visual scale – and a space on which to display them.
Once the topic has been chosen, the participant is given the options one at a time and asked to think about each one, placing it on the Talking Mat to indicate how they feel about it.
Types of Talking Mat
This is Talking Mats original low tech communication device.
- Specially designed symbols that are produced in no tear, wipe clean material.
- Packaged in clear plastic wallets with quick reference postcards and guidance booklet.
- Resource bundles come with mat and Fair Trade bag.
With the Original Card Resource you get:
- Textured Mat
- 3 packs of specially designed communication symbols
- Film clips of people using Talking Mats
- Talking Mats Book (A Resource to Enhance Communication)
- All in a portable Fair Trade bag
Redeveloped by Talking Mats in conjunction with MTC Media, this new version of the digital talking mat has the following features:
- A video to introduce the resource and how to use it
- Access to over 30 topics, depending on level of subscription
- Ability to choose top scale words and image
- Option to upload your own images to use in a mat.
- Once trained you have the ability to create and keep a ‘Personalised mat’ to use again
- Symbols can appear with text or without text
With the Digital Resource you have:
- Access to the specifically designed sets of symbols that you have bought
- An ability to add in your own images and personalise the conversation
- A personal secure log on
- Instant reports with a facility to capture the context and nuance of the Mat
- A filing system that enables you to organise and review your thinkers’ views
- No limits to the amount number of Mats that can be created and stored
How Talking Mats Works
Talking Mats is an interactive resource that uses three sets of picture communication symbols – topics, options and a visual scale – and a space on which to display them. This can either be a physical, textured mat, or a digital space, for example a tablet, smart board or computer screen for which we have created one of the best apps for communication disability. Topics: whatever you want to talk about, e.g., pictures symbolising “what do you want to do during the day”, “where you want to live”, “who do you want to spend time with”, etc.
Options: relating specifically to each topic. For example: “What do you feel about going for a walk? Or “living at home?”
Top Scale: this allows participants to indicate their general feelings about each topic and option. The meaning of the visual top scale can be adapted to suit the questions you are asking the person, for example, whether they are happy, unsure, or unhappy.
Once the topic is chosen, e.g. ‘activities’ or ‘people’, the participant is given the options one at a time and asked to think about what they feel about each one. They can then place the symbol under the appropriate visual scale symbol to indicate what they feel.
Talking Mats is used by clinical practitioners, carers and support workers in a wide range of health, social work, residential and education settings. Here are just a few ways that Talking Mats can be used:
- Help children and adults to express their preferences or feelings
- Provide a ‘thinking tool’ to enable people to explore issues and help them to structure and verbalise their thoughts.
- Help people with a learning disability to both understand what is involved in a decision and to then give their opinion.
- People who have had a stroke may have problems both understanding others and expressing themselves.
- The visual presentation of Talking Mats helps comprehension as well as providing an effective way for people to express their views.
- The structured and consistent format of Talking Mats makes it easier both for people with dementia to keep to topic and for the listener to follow the track of the conversation
- Support people with communication difficulties to express negative as well as positive views and reduce the tendency for people to acquiesce, i.e., agree with everything.
- The act of physically moving the picture symbols helps people organise their thoughts in a logical way.
Health and Wellbeing
Looking After Yourself
Work and Education
Leisure and Environment
Consulting Children and Young People
Three sets available
Each set are divided into three topics
With this set you can explore how the child is growing and developing, by focusing on the functions of the body, as well as skills that are emerging. You can gain an impression of how the child feels he or she is progressing physically, socially, cognitively and behaviourally.
What I Do
This set focuses on at the child’s lived experience by asking about the activities they participate in, as well as how they feel about the support they receive.
The communities in which children grow up have a significant impact on the well-being of both children and families. This set supports discussion about the child’s wider world, exploring the impact of nursery or school, as well as the support system available to them.
This resource set was designed particularly for individuals in care and supported living settings. It gives a helpful overview of their life, focusing on 3 topics:
Where You Live
Eating and Drinking
This resource has been co-produced with the help of people with eating and drinking difficulties and a range of different professionals. It is designed to help people think about, discuss and make informed decisions about how to manage their eating and drinking more safely.