Improving Communication for the HolidaysDecember 23, 2014
"It's the most wonderful time of the year!" The holidays are a great time to expand communication, work on language development and vocabulary, as well as help some AAC users deal with the stress of altered schedules. This is particularly important when working with pediatric AAC users.
Expanding Communication: For many pediatric users, there is a continuous need to expand communication. As users get more comfortable with device use, and as they see results in participating in activities via communication, the need for other communication types becomes more apparent to the user as well as other communication stakeholders.
So how can we take this and expand communication for the holidays? Often having the user and other stakeholders evaluate their holiday routines and vocabulary particular to the user is the most effective way to build communication pages related to Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's. Then as SLPs who interact and work with these users, we can use traditional therapy activities to have the user practice using these pages before using in other communication environments.
Vocabulary and Language Development: Not only during the holidays, but also in relation to school themes, we can develop communication pages that can be used to help young users show competence with vocabulary and language development. For me as an outpatient therapist, this can also be a way to show the value of AAC for school professionals who may not have had a lot of exposure with communication devices.
So how can we utilize vocabulary and language development? We can create pages specifically related to a story and use vocabulary related to that story. We can also start exposing young users to word power type pages to work on creating sentences related to a theme.
Addressing Stress and Anxiety: Recently one of my young users went to New York to visit family. He became extremely agitated during the trip, and the noise and the crowds caused him to become overwhelmed. He almost walked out in front of a train. Once this situation happen, we decided to create some ‘self talk' pages.
His family and I started brain storming different situations that would be happening soon that could cause him to become agitated or overwhelmed. We created a page so he could talk about what was going to happen and what he needed to do prior to being placed in that situation. This would be similar to social scripts that we have discussed in the past.
These are just a few ways to take this unique time of year to push communication to the next level.