My siblings and I were raised on the magic words As far as my mother was concerned, if you didn’t begin with please and end in thank you, she’d only hear crickets and the request would go unacknowledged.
I’ve realized that I’ve not held Jess to this same standard. I’ve been remiss when it comes to teaching social manners. It’s difficult for Jess to process what she hears and process what she sees simultaneously, so I don’t force her to look me in the eye, but she could shake a person’s hand, and/or use the appropriate social words on her talker. Just because she has Angelman Syndrome doesn’t mean the rules don’t apply. I’m finding it amusing that I’ve committed a social faux pas with regards to etiquette.
Years ago, when Jess got her first AAC device, the SLP asked what words I wanted for her to have? My first thought was “all of them”! I did ask for the word “please”, but was told that was not an important word, there are other more basic words that Jess needed to begin with and she was right. There were other things to focus on, too many in fact. I’m embarrassed that I’m addressing manners many years late, but there’s no time like the present. With the help of a lesson plan, we are working on our P’s and Q’s .
Jess has found it easier to say “want more exceptional ice cream” than “ice cream please”. She knows where please is on her talker, but until she makes the connection that this is a powerful word, she won’t be inclined to use it. We have been modeling Please on her talker, but husband and I also need to model the word when we speak. Modeling isn’t just about showing Jess the motor plan to locate words, but it is also means to provide the vocabulary in our daily conversations. If Dorothy and the Scarecrow can carrying on polite conversations, then I think we can too. (I’m linking to remind myself to show Jess).
Even though “please” has been open on her iPad from the near beginning, I don’t believe I’ve modeled the word very much. Jess has other social phrases* on the “please” page such as “are you kidding me”, “talk to the hand” and “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” which she uses often, but they are sassy and not polite. Please just hasn’t been in her every day vernacular….vernacular, love this word. First time I heard it used was in the Wizard of Oz and it just stuck with me. I want Jess to have a large vocabulary and to learn to love words. Words open doors and words are power, which brings me right back to the word please!
* for expedience sake, she does have a few phrases programmed in, but for the most part, Jess uses individual words to build her sentences.