Friday, 1 April 2011

I can...grow up!

Peter Pan got to be a child forever, but for the rest of us, it just isn’t an option. We all have to grow up one day and face the opportunities and changes that come with adulthood. For those with communication challenges, it can be difficult to make that transition, and the earlier we start working on the skills that are needed, the easier it may be. Here are some thoughts…

Little Bytes:
How will the availability of services and funding change for you or your child when entering the adult years? Looking into this now will help with planning ahead and being more prepared. Ask your current service providers and funding agencies for their insights.

I can make my own decisions…
Making your own decisions and dealing with the consequences is something that we all start learning about in childhood. It starts with choosing a book, a snack, what to wear… Sometimes we make choices that may be considered questionable (“are you going out dressed like that???”), but being able to do so allows us to learn and to grow. For children who use AAC, opportunities to make choices may be limited. It takes time to offer someone choices and to look for that specific “yes” or “no” response. It takes even more time and patience to always add an option for “you haven’t offered me what I really want yet. Keep going!” Let’s face it; sometimes it’s just easier to do everything for this person. But providing these opportunities paves the way for allowing individuals to make their voices heard and to direct their own care in later life. 
Give me the words! Making changes to vocabulary displays and device pages.
It can be frustrating and sometimes just impossible to say what you want if you do not have the words you need. At many transition times in life, our need for expanded vocabulary increases. As kids who use AAC develop and enter their teen years, then on into adulthood, they too will need changes in their vocabulary. It can be hard to talk with a teen at the best of times, but when your teen does not even have the words that are needed, it might just add to the frustration, or cause a teen to simply not try. Review communication displays on a regular basis and continue to add and teach new vocabulary.

Talking like a teen. Although we were all teens once upon a time, it doesn’t mean that we still know how teens talk! As Robin Hurd (a parent of two teenagers who use AAC) points out in her article “Talking with teens, AAC Style”  “Let’s face it: adults are the ones who program their AAC devices.  And adults are notoriously dull conversation partners for teens”. She provides some great functional suggestions for phrases to get a conversation going between teens.
Robin continues the theme in her insightful article “There’s a Teenager in the House!”

This is how I talk…and this is how you can help!
Transitioning into the adult world involves a great deal of change. Often it can involve leaving the comfort of an environment where everyone knows your communication profile, to trying to make yourself understood with a wider circle of individuals. Some adults employ a communication assistant – see the information on the ACCPC website at

No-Tech Ideas

·        When thinking about sharing information with a wider group of communication partners in the adult world, plan ahead to develop resources such as a communication dictionary detailing all communication strategies used.

Light Tech Ideas

·        You will be meeting lots of new people when you move into the adult world.  You can program messages on a multi-message device introducing yourself and how you communicate.  (e.g. “Hi my name is Sam”, “I use this device to communicate”, “This is my first time here.  How about you?”, “Would you like to sit together?”.)


High Tech Ideas

Today’s technology can also be used to share information quickly and easily. Create a PowerPoint presentation; a video with commentary; a talking photo album on your iPad; a website about yourself.  This can be helpful to use when you meet new people or when you want to provide some info about yourself before you meet them (e.g. in preparing for an interview for employment, volunteerism, placements).

I Can…be a Star!
Congratulations to Jordan Ward, from College Avenue Secondary School, in Woodstock.  He recently went on a school trip to a local radio station where he had lots fun asking questions with his communication device!

What’s new?? Find out at Aroga’s Technomania 2011: get your hands the latest developments in Aroga’s assistive technology hardware and software and talk to the experts. April 8 from 9.00 to 4.30. See

Don’t Forget! Registration deadline for Breaking the Ice is April 5th. This is a fantastic opportunity for people who use AAC and their supporters to share ideas and learn from each other. June 3-5, 2011 in Toronto - see attached flyer or website for info. Reduced rates for ISAAC Canada members (membership form attached).

·        Check out events and local groups for youth on the TVCC website:
·        Explore a collection of personal stories and poems submitted by individuals who use AAC at
·        ACCPC provides research, education and resources on a wide variety of topics including: social justice issues, abuse prevention, attendant services, transition to adulthood, self determination and advocacy, personal safety, healthy relationships, conflict resolution and literacy.
·        Talking openly and honestly with your teen…
·          This issue of Augmentative Communication News (April 2005) focuses on the effects of transition periods in life on people who use AAC tools and strategies. 

Please note that TVCC is not responsible for website content or website address accuracy. The Picture Communication Symbols ©1981–2007 by Mayer-Johnson LLC. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Used with permission.© Thames Valley Children's Centre, London, ON Canada 2007.