If our life were a game show, it would go something like this:
Word of the day Monday. Every time you tap the AAC word of the day (I give her a hint by posting the written word on a door, then she is to find it on her talker) we all yell hurray just like PeeWee Herman! She loves cause and effect.
Traveling Tuesday.Our best conversations are while we are in the car. No distractions. We’ve got nothing but time to talk. We don’t even need a destination!
New-word Wednesday. A day to add a new vocabulary word.
Two-word Thursday. Must say two words together. Jess is brilliant at interjecting the exact word to interject into a conversation that sums up her thoughts, especially when people talk faster than she can respond. However, when it is just us, she is borderline lazy.
Fill in the blank or Fringe word Friday, . Fill in the last word of a sentence. This can be serious or silly. Silly is more of an icebreaker and she tends to expand what she wants to say. School never gave Jess “homework”, however, that doesn’t mean I can’t.
Secret Saturday. It’s a secret. Even I haven’t figured out the game for the day. I’m open to suggestions…
Short Story Sunday. Sum up the week in a short story. This is a way to model without pressure. Jess often begins this with “guess what” which leads to “and then what happened”.
By the end of the week, I say in my best game show announcer voice,
“Jessie, what have you won?” (To the tune of the Prices Right)
“You have won a bigger vocabulary! Because you are more interesting people will want to talk to you. You are a winner (actually she is just fortunate) because 9 out of 10 people that are non-verbal don’t have access to a speech AAC system”. In reality, the percentages probably aren’t this high.
This may all sound silly but talking isn’t always fun for Jess. Of course, these are our games and you can make up your own.
Either conversation moves too quickly, or we fall into using the same script trap. It’s like my asking my husband, “how was your day?” It’s just too mundane and predictable. This is one of the reasons Jess liked SFY. She wanted fringe words at her fingertips. Without easy access, her old AAC device became an expensive doorstop. The words she had been seeking were the ones no one thought she needed. We don’t want her to be an AAC casualty.
If you ask her, she did.
If minds are not kept moving, then they stay on idle. If you are idle too long, you may need a kickstart. When it comes to talking, we need to engage!