Girls All Over the World are the Same
If this sounds just like your usual “girl talk” — 8 to 11-year-old friends sharing what they’re looking forward to and what they’ve been doing — it is. But there’s one difference: they’re using Alternative/Augmentative Communication Systems (AAC) to communicate with one another.
They’re telling each other jokes, laughing at funny things they say. They may read a book together and discuss it or tell each other about cool new music. Just like all girls their age, they have strong opinions and enjoy being heard.
Get-togethers like this feel like a casual playdate, but these girls are doing more than just chatting it up: they’re working on skills that otherwise wouldn’t come easily for their peers. A person who uses an AAC device as communication from an early age learns the social, literacy, motoric, and syntactical modes of communication all at the same time. It’s not an easy task, and that kind of dexterity must be practiced.
United Through Technology
When the girls tell jokes, they work on turn-taking skills with one another. When they ask one another questions, they work on answering them logically or with longer phrases. When they share information, they may work on longer phrases and sentences. But the most important thing is that they are doing it together. They’re enthusiastic to motivate and emulate each other’s progress.
Recently, the girls and their families had the opportunity to see Frozen 2 at the new Lux Theater near our campus on Lakeshore. Beforehand, they talked excitedly about the upcoming event. One session, we discussed potential plot points ( Who would be in the movie? Where would it be? Will it be scary?). We talked about what we wanted to do, and yes, discussed for a long-time what snacks we wanted to enjoy!
At the movie, some of the girls used their AAC devices to order refreshments. They enjoyed the self-service popcorn machines and we all appreciated the Lux’ accessible seating.
Afterward, we posed for pictures and talked about our favorite parts of the movie, and what scenes we might change. Most of all, the girls enjoyed sharing a new experience and putting to work the skills they’ve been mastering.
At United Ability, we help people communicate and participate in all aspects of life, developing self-esteem and deepening life-long relationships. Outings like the girls’ trip to the theater is just one way we help build socialization and connection in healthy, fun, real-world ways.
We have groups for different ages, stages, and needs of communication in our outpatient therapy program. To learn more about our outpatient services for children up to age 14, please call us at 205.944.3921 or visit our www.unitedability.org