What is the difference between Domain 1 and Domain 6 in terms of symbolic language, and how they relate to each other? ?

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This is a common question. Some ROCC users are unsure how Domains 1 and 6 are different to each other, and how they work alongside each other. We have tried to clarify here to avoid confusion!

Domain 1 – Use of symbolic and specific language

Domain 1 is related to whether your person understands symbolic language. In other words,  have they shown enough examples of symbol use for you to say that they understand that symbols represent different messages? They don’t need a wide range of messages, just enough for you to feel comfortable that they do understand symbolic representation.

As an example, some students have learned – I have to get that picture and then I get what I want, but that is not really enough to say that they have figured out symbolic representation. Others may have a limited set of symbolic messages but clearly understand that one means one thing and another means something else. 

I think you’d probably have to have 5-10 different symbols at least to really say they are starting to show an understanding of symbolic language, but of course everyone is different. They may also have a few signs (or only signs rather than symbols) to show that they have symbolic representation of a message. 

Domain 6 – Complexity of messages – expressive language level

In a nutshell, Domain 6 refers to their average length of utterance – ie. typical message length, and at higher levels, the use of grammatical markers like tense, plurals, and smaller connecting words like and or with


The big difference, really, is that in Domain 1 we are analysing whether your person seems to understand symbolic representation, whereas in Domain 6, we are analysing how big the vocabulary of your person is.  

For more detail on individual domains, read our ‘Closer look at  Domain’ blog posts. 

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