The DYnamic Therapy Associates Blog
Kendal and I have had some wonderful conversations. He's been telling me about his favorite music (country!), his new temporary home, his opinion about some of the people in his life... Kendal and I have known each other for many, many years. We've struggled through traditional therapy, YouTube infused visits, extremely short visits as he was determined not to join me and now we've settled down into this nice relationship. I've always loved Kendal but now I can say I truly enjoy interacting with him. The difference is that now Kendal and I really understand each other. Kendal and I interact with both of us using his communication device as a "translator box." Kendal struggles greatly with comprehending spoken language. His social and environmental awareness greatly exceeds his understanding of verbal language. Sometimes we think he hears that Charlie Brown teacher voice when we talk.
The technique I use most with Kendal is Aided Language Input. Very simply stated, I use Kendal's device, the NovaChat 10, to talk to him. The visual symbols paired with my (Charlie Brown teacher) speech help Kendal understand me so that he can participate in our conversations. I touch symbols on his device which correspond to the words I'm saying. The value of aided language input is that Kendal is able to see someone communicate the same way he does. He has a model for how aided communication works. There is no pressure for him to imitate my model. If he wants to participate, awesome! If he just wants to listen, that's okay too. Either way Kendal is learning language and building relationships. Kendal's mom is amazing and she uses this technique as much as possible at home and in the community. Kendal seems calmer and happier as a result of his improved understanding and ability to offer his own opinions. He's found a great deal of satisfaction in being able to tell us about the other people in his lives and their ups and downs in caring for him. We've also seen an increase in Kendal's understanding of our words. He's responding more and more to our verbal language.
You'll see in our video that Kendal pays close attention to my symbol selection and then reads the message window text. He obviously understands and "gets" my jokes as we take turns talking. Since Kendal primarily communicates using 1-2 symbols per message, I used to simplify my messages to just a few symbols per statement. Now I use 4-7 symbols per statement because he's shown me he understands. There are some really wonderful resources on the internet to explain how Aided Language Input works. Here's a great compilation from PrAACtical AAC: http://praacticalaac.org/tag/aided-language-input/
We thought we'd just show you!
About the Author: I am a SLP who has the distinct fortune of having a job that is also my passion. I have been an AAC Specialist for almost 25 years in schools and my private clinic. I currently own Dynamic Therapy with my husband, Chuck (also of 25 years) who is my business partner and enabler. We have a wonderful staff of SLPs & AAC Specialists who work with us to help our patients. I hope you find my blog helpful as you join me in our journey with our unique and amazing friends! Vicki Clarke, MS CCC-SLP