Your child will not learn to use their AAC device if YOU are not on board with it. That is why it is critical that you choose a device that not only fits your child’s needs, but one that fits YOUR needs as well. If the device is too hard for you to figure out how to program you aren’t going to use it. If you don’t understand WHY the device is programmed the way it is you aren’t going to use it. That’s right, I say YOU aren’t going to use it because if YOU don’t use it neither will your child. Here’s why.
You are going to be the main programmer of the device and if you aren’t than your child will be less successful with it.
If you don’t know how to program a word into the device and rely on your SLP to do it instead you are putting your child at a disadvantage. Do you know how many times I have had to put a word into my son’s talker ON THE FLY? Every. Single. Day. Everyday, my son discovered a new word he needed me to open up and continue modeling for him. If I relied solely on his SLP to do it during the half hour she saw him at school then he would be out extremely valuable language everyday. Not to mention the auditory bombardment my son craved of a word I had no idea he wanted to know.
You need to model talking on the device for your child to use it. If you don’t like the device you aren’t going to be as willing to model.
Sure, letting your child explore their talker is super beneficial. Not as much as showing them how to use it though. What is the best way to show them how to use it? MODELING. This is not only straight up motivation and encouragement for them, but this is how we learn language naturally. By hearing someone else say a word and then show you the object you learn new words. When you have a baby and you see a dog do you not say “look at that dog, pet the dog, he is so soft” and then the baby associates the word dog with the actual dog. When you are reading books to your child you point to a cow and read the word cow and your child knows that that black and white animal that says moo is a cow. With AAC you need to use language the same way. Push a button, talk about it, show them how to touch it to say it themselves, show them it has meaning. This type of modeling is how you teach them new words on their talker. It is imperative that you know how to use that talker backward and forward.
You need to understand the principles of the system.
Read up on the system and understand WHY it works the way it does. If you want a device to automatically say sentences for your child except you have one where they have to push each word individually then you need to know WHY. If you don’t know WHY then you may think that device is inadequate and set it aside when really that device encourages pushing one word at a time for a very important reason. You need to agree with the why, to understand it and create an easier world for your child to navigate. If you don’t understand it, you are going to become discouraged by it. If you become discouraged by it, you won’t model it. If you don’t model it your child won’t use it at home. Yes, it is that simple. If you don’t like the device your child is less likely to use it.
You need to believe in the device you choose and the best way to continue believing in it is to have a support group.
I believed in Speak for Yourself because I did the research and I asked questions to a huge support group any time I needed. Facebook is great because so many devices have support groups on it. Being able to have people to ask those trouble shooting questions to will also ensure your success. If you feel like you don’t have any support than you aren’t going to want to use it because it will become frustrating. If it is frustrating to you, your child will likely feel it is frustrating as well. They need your support and encouragement to use their device just like you need others support and encouragement to program and model with it.
Without knowing how to program, being able to model, understanding the system, and having support for the system your child will not have an adequate teacher of the system. Just like anybody, if you don’t have a good teacher you will be less willing to learn and also less successful. That is why I think it is JUST as important, if not more, for the parent to be on board with the device chosen as it is for the child.
The Homeschooling SLP-September 2017 www.homeeducatingapraxia.com