If I expect Jess to be part of the conversation, I need to speak in her language. This isn’t because she doesn’t understand what is being said, but because it puts us on the same playing field.
A casual verbal conversation is between 110 to 150 words per minute. Jessie’s conversations are much more succinct. If she’s on a roll, she’s closer to 25-30 wpm. This huge gap creates a communication divide.
When I model in her Speak for Yourself language, our conversations are evenly paced. Not only that but she’s much more willing to volunteer information.
It’s become obvious that modeling language will never end. Though I model every day, I realize that I’m not doing it enough. Short bursts of modeling do not equal a whole conversation.
Modeling is an integral part of our life. I’m afraid it’s easy to fall into the trap and think “I will model till my child starts talking and then I won’t need to”.
Just as we don’t stop talking to a child that is learning to be verbal, we shouldn’t stop modeling AAC either. Modeling AAC isn’t just about building vocabulary or answering requests, the ultimate goal is to have a conversation.
I must confess. I don’t model when we have company, which means inadvertently, I’m excluding Jess. My only consolation is at least I’ve recognized an area that needs improvement.
Another aspect for me to remember is what Jess told me the other day. After denying her repeated requests, she said,
“I’m 25 years old” and then proceeded to tell me what she wanted.
I modeled my response,
“Well Jessie when you put it that way, how can I argue?”
And then, we were both happy.
Modeling is forever.