Song Signifiers

Song Signifiers are used at Oaklands, to help develop awareness and anticipation skills.  They are used at the beginning of an activity – to help our pupils recognise what’s coming; or at the end of an activity – to help them recognise something is finished.

They are a really useful strategy to use with our children.

Below you will find a number of videos, showing song signifiers used in school that you could use at home.

But first – do you want to know a bit more about them…what they are?…how best to use them?  Take a few minutes to check out this video, and it will help you get a better idea…

The Song Signifiers listed below are the:

And if you want to know more about Song Signifiers, or have a home activity that you think needs one – please contact your Speech & Language Therapist.

Finish Song

This is a really useful song to sing at the end of an activity. It communicates clearly to the listener that something is about to stop/change, and can have a really calming effect when used appropriately. In this example “work” is used to denote the activity, but can obviously be replaced with the appropriate activity name/sign.

Washing Our Hands Song

This song can be sung before and during the activity of hand washing, to help someone recognise what is about to happen/happening, thus relieving any stress or anxiety about the unknown.

Toilet Song

By singing this song whenever you’re taking a child to the toilet, they may come to recognise what is about to happen next – which could be reassuring and calming.

Snack Song

Singing this song would signify to a child that snack was the next thing happening in their day.

Lunch Song

This song can be sung just before lunch (or before any other meal other than snack – see “Snack” Song) to help clarify what is about to happen, and help someone be calmer and more focussed.

Intensive Interaction Song

Intensive Interaction is an approach we use with pupils, to encourage the sharing of enjoyable and meaningful interactions with children and adults who have complex communication needs.  For more information, click here.

In this video you can hear the song signifier, as well as seeing both an object signifier (the tinsel) and a symbol which can also be used to communicate what’s about to happen.

Going out on the bus Song

This song signifier can be song when someone is going out on a trip – to the shops, to the library, to the beach etc. It can be sung to help the individual get on the bus (or the car – see below) (i.e. reassure them that they ARE going somewhere) and then, if needed, once on the bus, a second song signifier can be sung to help them understand where they are going (e.g. you might follow up with the “Swimming” song signifier).
If they are travelling by car, you could substitute “on the bus” with “in the car”, and sign car, instead of bus.

Swimming Song

This song can be sung as you leave to go swimming, on your way to swimming, as you get changed for swimming, as you head to the pool…or any variation of these. As with all song signifiers, it will help make clearer what is about to happen, and can help calm nerves, help focus so you decide when and how it is best to use it.

Going Home Song

This is a song which can be sung to someone when they are out, and about to go home. At this time, you should sing the “Finish” song (see above) followed by this song. If this is done consistently, it may become clear to the child that things are about to change. As a result, the song may help reduce any behaviours arising from feelings such as anxiety around what is happening.

Special School, City of Edinburgh Council.

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