Hey, it's Courtney here and I am recording this podcast solo, but it will be going on Markeisha has podcasts as well as the IEP live podcasts like we normally do. So, but life happens, my kids be sick illnesses. And so we just weren't able to record it together. But I'm so glad you're here. And today I wanted to talk to you guys, about augmentative. and Alternative Communication Awareness Month is happening in October, it's one of the Awareness Month is happening. And I'm personally passionate about it because I'm a Speech Language Pathology Assistant. And I'm also a mom to an AAC user who primarily communicates using her communication device. So sometimes they're called AAC devices, because it's just a more common acronym that's been promoted, and people start to recognize it. But augmentative and alternative communication can be any form of communication that's not verbally spoken. So that can be a low tech, like paper communication board that maybe you laminate. It can be sign language, or adaptive sign gestures, picture cards, as well as the higher tech communication devices that you might see the app downloaded onto an iPad or Samsung device. So that's like a broad overview of the term AAC and the awareness is comes because there's still a lot of myths around using AAC. And some of those myths come from old thoughts or research it research that was out there. But now we learned that was incorrect. That's not really true. And so one of the things is not true is that using AAC, well, stop or for prevent your child from developing spoken language, there is nothing easier than talking. And so if a child or an adult is able to do that, whether their body is able to learn and coordinate all that, or if they're in a maybe right now, they're not in a position to talk verbally, but they can use a communication device, I see that happen. Sometimes when we're dysregulated. My clients are dysregulated, they're having sensory overload, that sort of thing, a lot of times verbally speaking, isn't available to them, and they feel like they can't. And that's where the alternative communication really comes in. And so to say that you have to be completely non speaking or nonverbal, to qualify for an AAC device is incorrect to because you it's a tool in your toolbox. So whether it is the main form of communication for somebody, or a tool that they need, in certain situations, it should be available to them. And it shouldn't be discounted, just because sometimes they can speak verbally, or they're speaking verbally,
but they have a lot of Miss articulations and phonological processes, and nobody can understand that. So outside of the family, most people can't understand them. Why would we want them to be frustrated and navigating through communication breakdown over and over again, having access to a communication device allows them to go, okay, they're not understanding me, I'm going to clarify using my communication device, and then the conversation is repaired, and they're able to move forward with that conversation. Another myth is that you have to be able to isolate your finger in order to navigate the communication device. This is untrue, as well, because there's eye gaze devices where you use your eyes to activate and navigate to the different buttons, it's extremely hard. If you're not used to it, if your eyes will get fatigued, fatigued very fast. And then, but my clients use it all the time. This like their eyes are like super muscles, they don't fatigue, it's when you're not used to it. And then there's switch access where we can have like a button and they scan it. And then they can double tap to select or they might have two different scanners, one scanning and then the second button they touch to select that picture that button on their device to create their message. So again, if you can't isolate or if your child's really tight and they can extend their arms or their hands, that's okay, there is a way to work around that and have a different access to the device. So that's an another myth. So I hear a lot of these myths both inside from IEP teams as well as medical teams that you might be seeing a speech therapist or occupational therapist outside of school. And so Part of my kishin eyes desire with this podcast is to include every parent, and to create a community where people can support other parents in their parenting journey, whether the child has a disability or not. So by listening to our different podcasts and learning different information, you're then able to go out into your group of friends and say, Oh,
my gosh, I was listening to this podcast and they were talking about a See, you should check it out. Because I think
this could be a life changer for your child, or maybe you believe one of those myths. And now after today, you're gonna realize it's a myth and not buy into it. And so therefore, you're going to change your therapy approach, or how you view a see as a teacher, and that's exciting to me. So Hannah, never Hannah's my daughter, she's 18. And from birth, I mean, as soon as you should be babbling, Han, another babbled. She never tried to do like raspberries or sounds play with different sounds, she was just she didn't do that. And so I was concerned, because I was like, Hey, we should be holding our bottle, we should be sitting up, we should be babbling. And she wasn't really doing any of that. So I was out at a loss. So then we had a hearing test. And we did find out that she does have some hearing loss. So they were like, Okay, we're just gonna get her some hearing aids, get her into. I don't know, the official name of the therapy. But it was like, basically, somebody came to the house and early interventionists who had background in early childhood and ASL and working with the deaf and hard of hearing community. And so they came over and they started doing what I'm calling sound, sound therapy, or having her turn and look towards the sound and use her hearing needs to identify where the sound was coming from. And we started introducing sign. And after eight months of consistency, Hannah did sign more, she signed more, I was so excited. I was thrilled. I was like, Oh my gosh, okay, we got something, you got something. And I can communicate that she wished she could communicate you once more. And we worked out and worked out. And I realized that this about two years, and that the signs were very involved with the small motor and a lot of movement, and Anna couldn't do it. So we were having to adapt the sign. And very few people knew ASL and then even less knew the adaptive version of that sign. And so we were running into where she was still not being able to really communicate with us. And so this is around 2009 2010. The technology is not where it is today. And it was very, there were communication devices, but they are very big and heavy, and very, not very intuitive. And so we we did introduce a tour, a lot of people on our IEP team thought that this was a bad idea wasn't going to work. I didn't have a lot of support, but we gave it a go. And we did again, we saw some some communication, that she got what it was, and she would, you know, grab the card and hand us the card, the picture card, and then she would get the item. And so she started to make those connections. And it was just okay. Again, it was so cumbersome. And we had to re record had eight, eight boxes, and it was an overlay. And every time you change the overlay, you'd have to rerecord the messages. So again, it was just very, very cumbersome.
So then we got an iPad with touch shot, and our life just changed, it was so easy to use, I could do so much more customizing with her pictures, because Hannah was still struggling to realize that this picture of a cup and her cup that she drank out of were both cups, and she could drink out of both cups. And so we would have to take that concrete picture of like, this is her cup and put that on the device. And then she would select it. And so we started really taking off with that. And when we got her IEP team on board and getting them trained and getting them using it. We started using it at home. We then were able to have her create spontaneous messages and let us know what she was thinking and wanting. And the device she has right now is a dedicated device meaning it can't be like an app and then you get the iPad and you download it. It's dedicated. That's the only thing on there. So it's very expensive, but the reason why we did the NOVA Chat got through Medicaid The reason why we chose that particular communication device is because of her visual impairment. And on this communication device, it will let you your finger glide over multiple buttons, but won't select until she lifts lifts her hand. And so that was really important because Hannah do door visual impairment has a hard time with perception and perception and picking the right like she was thinking drink, but she hit all done. And so sometimes she'll realize she's she went to the wrong spot, and then she won't lift her finger and she can glide back. And that creates what we call a miss Hit and bumping it back to the home screen. So that's why we picked that device. And so it's really needed for those reasons. So you might see this month, a lot of apps, communication apps going on sell, a lot of times, if 50% off, it's very exciting. They go on sale, usually in October and April. I just want to caution you guys to not just run out and buy one. But to check with if your child has a speech therapist, check with them, check with their school speech therapist. Reach out to some of the therapists sharing content on social media around a see and ask them about the different apps and their features, or look on the app description about their their features. So that makes sure that you're buying the right app for your child, because each communication app has its own kind of highlights are what they're really grayed out. This is really great for kids with that was only like LAMP Words for Life. For instance, there's only one way for each word, even if it's orange, color orange, and the food orange, there's only one way to get to orange. And on let's say touch chat, you can have the category colors and have orange. And you can have groups and food and find the word orange for the fruit. And so the pictures are a little bit different. How you can create grammatically correct sentences are a little bit different on each app. So just take a peek at that before you run out and buy it. But they're all amazing. And they all have things, you just want to make sure you're buying an app that leans into your child's strengths. And that if they have a access need that we're making sure we're buying an app that allows the access to you'd like my daughter's lights up her buttons light up red, and the button doesn't select tell Anna lifts her finger, that's really important for access to her device to make sure we have those features. And so if I was to go by a different app, those features wouldn't be there. So it might not work for your kiddo. So just having that in mind before you go and download one. But maybe you've had an evaluation or you trialed some devices. And you already they've already given the recommendation, it's just getting through all the red tape. So you already have done those trials, you know exactly what you want. And now it's on sale sweet go by. So if you have any quick questions about the communication devices, or how to get started, just reach out to markeesha I'm we're happy to she can share her school experience from a teacher point of view. And I can share my experience as a therapist and SLPA and a mom and really help you. And
I have a free resource called the visual communication toolkit. I'm going to put the link right here in the show notes. And you can put in your email and it will be sent to you. It goes over vocabulary and terms around visual communication, what it is how to get started with it, how to talk to your team, about your interest in getting started with a see with your child, how to work with your team, if they're on board and what to do if they're not on board and to help you as a parent, understand the vocabulary and some of the terminology so you can feel more empowered and ready to take on this new adventure because it is a C and learning a communication device is learning another language. It's its own communication system. And it's going to take your time. So if you tried it before and you got frustrated and you put it away and you're like I should get back out I should try again. Yeah, do it. And it's okay that you got frustrated and it's normal to get frustrated and I had missteps in the beginning with Hannah and I wasn't, I'm still not perfect, and we're still learning and growing. But just maybe you just need that reassurance that it is hard that it does get better and the more you use it and model on it as a communication partner for years. child or student, the more comfortable you're gonna get, and the easier it's going to get for you to use the communication device. And that's important too. So we have to model model is by us activating and navigating that device. And we're doing that without expectation for our child or student to respond. So modeling without expectation means that you're just going all in on modeling time to go or just the word go, we're going and do that model that and when you get comfortable with that, add in another word on there time to go. So and it doesn't have to be a grammatically correct sentence, when you're modeling, you want to start like if your child is or student is able to do a one word, a one hit on their device, one word utterance, one, hit one button selection, then you can model two or three, so you can always model above what they're able to do. So they can see where they're going like a little roadmap. So you can verbally say time to go and you're modeling on the device go. And just keep it simple. And take that pressure off of you that you have to be perfect at this or your feeling. And instead have the mindset, I am so excited that we get to learn this together. And I'm going to keep trying until we get it. And we're just going to take it one step at a time. So thanks for joining us. And I look forward to talking with you guys again later this month with markeesha. I hope you guys have a fabulous week. And as always, please like and share. Leave us a review, we'd love that and let this get to the right people in your life that need to hear the message about augmentative and alternative communication, as well as a podcast that's supporting all parents, whether you're raising a child with a disability or not. And having that space in that community to strengthen our parenting skills, understanding different kids with disabilities and what might be going on with different classmates of your child. And that's where that parent empowerment is really special to markeesha. And I and that's one of our focuses on the podcast is just to help all parents feel included, to have a network of people learning and growing together so that you can be an ally for your friend. And so like when my friends aren't necessarily raising kids with disabilities, but they're taking an interest in things for Hannah and topics that they can educate themselves on. They become a link and in that chain of getting that information out and helping other people have empathy and passion and advocate for people to have an equal access to their world. And so when we have barriers like communication or not having ramps and these accessible barriers, then we're leaving people out of our community. And one thing that markeesha And I really want is to have a community where it's inclusive, both in school and out of school and to have people who are all working towards that common goal of universal design and inclusion. So we're so happy you're here. I hope you found this helpful, and I will talk to you guys later.
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