Tuesday, June 13, 2017

AAC after school: Most success, success, least success

It's been hot in NYC for the past few days, and heat takes a real toll on Maya. After school yesterday she seemed content, but exhausted . . . and (interestingly?) her verbal speech basically evaporates when she is tired. (Evidence of the need to advocate for AAC for children who are sometimes capable of verbal speech . . . but I digress.)

She told me "No snack today" and I asked "Why didn't you eat your snack?" and she yelled "No!" and wouldn't/couldn't tell me more. So I gave her a snack, set her up with homework, and tried to ask a little bit about her day . . . but I got nothing in response. At all.

So I pulled out Mini, and sat at the table next to her. Without saying anything, I started to tap out the beginning of a sentence (in whisper mode so she couldn't hear what I was saying, because secrets are her kryptonite). And when I finished tapping out "I didn't have snack today because" I slid it over to her and she filled in the rest:

(image is a photo of Mini's screen, which reads "i didn't have snack today because I not open it mon". Maya calls me Mon instead of "mom.")

Victory! I got the information that I wanted (she's been having a bit of a snack stand-off for the past few days, so this answer makes sense to me). I decided to continue the game---I would write a sentence starter and then pass Mini over, and Maya could complete the sentence. It seemed win-win-win: good modeling, good home-use-of-AAC, and a good way to sway Maya into talking about her day.

I grabbed my phone to take a quick video clip, with the thought of sharing this story here. And I got a good one! 

And a mediocre one! 

And a lousy one! 

And while it's kind of the norm to share highlights online, I thought I should just share all three . . . because real-life-AAC-family. In the first part, the strategy works. In the second, you'll hear a distracting little brother, bathroom talk, a mom-who's-trying-to-keep-everyone-focused-and-failing. You'll see Maya get tired, get distracted, and lose interest at different parts. And in the third section, it's just not happening. (Although I should note that AAC use by me, even when rejected by Maya, is still validating AAC as communication that I enjoy and am happy to use---so it's not a failure! It's just the least successful example here.)

Real life, folks. 

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