Know Your Team
Having a team surrounding an AAC user can be incredibly beneficial for achieving communicative success. Keep reading to see the importance of a team and how Eli and his supporters are finding success.
2020 has been a tough year; it’s certainly one for the history books. But in tough times, we all seem to pull together just that little bit more. Even though community based sport is still on hold, the past few weeks I’ve been reminded of the importance of being part of a team. Specifically an AAC team - a team that’s unlike any other.
So who’s in the team? Anyone and everyone! But the star player/the Michael Jordan/the Cathy Freeman of the show is the AAC user. Everyone else is there to support and contribute and we don’t necessarily need any particular skills for this. Our job is to communicate. All day, every day, in each and every situation, we are communicating with our faces, our words, our bodies. Therefore, all day, every day, in each and every situation, we can use AAC.
There are some easy things we can do; know the AAC system ourselves, make the AAC system available at all times, be an effective communication partner, and presume competence. Presuming competence is based on two pretty simple ideas; everyone has something to say and everyone can learn. When everyone in the team believes in the star’s potential to learn we automatically provide more opportunities for interaction, participation and engagement. If you don’t believe in your AAC user’s abilities, they will know.
One of the teams I have spoken with recently includes team members in various locations. Eli, the device user, lives in a regional town with his parents. He attends a mainstream school which has pulled together resources to better support Eli's inclusion and by all accounts, he’s a social and popular kid. He attends medical appointments in the capital city and documents this with photos to show to his peers who enjoy finding out what he’s been up to when absent from school. He has an OT who supports him face to face, and a speech pathologist who links in virtually from the capital city. (When I met him, he was seeing his speech pathologist face to face for the first time and he could not have been more excited!) He’s a boy who is learning new skills, kicking goals, engaging everyone who comes in contact with him and he has so much to say. His team works together; they support each other, they problem solve, they collect information, they constantly review and reflect and this was obvious when meeting some of them.
The way a team plays as a whole determines its success - Babe Ruth.
So who’s team are you on?
Written by Jessica McDade