It is true, the best way to understand someone is to walk a mile in their shoes. In our case, one week in October 2013, I did not speak. My only communication was through the App Speak For Yourself (SFY). Not until the challenge had begun, did I realize that it was AAC Awareness month. I do not believe in coincidence.
Having a week of immersion allowed me to get a better understanding as to how my daughter, who has Angelman Syndrome, has to navigate through an AAC device. This was the hardest yet most rewarding week I’ve ever had! It didn’t take me long to realize how many assumptions I had made. I wish everyone could/would do this challenge. I guarantee that if you do, you will walk away with a new appreciation of how difficult it is to be non-verbal in a verbal world. If you can’t commit to a week, do this for a weekend, a day or 12 hours. We learn language through immersion and using a device is not much different than speaking with your voice. You need to use aided language. Your part is to model, model model. If you had thoughts that all you had to do was hand your child an AAC device and they will magically talk, think again. This is a team sport and everyone has to participate.
YoudontsayAAC did not exist at the time. Heidi from SFY shared my posts “Voiceless But still Talking (with AAC) Challenge” on her blog:
I have vowed to repeat this challenge again October 2014. This actually may be an annual event for me!
Looking back, I cringe at my writing errors and typos. I’m dyslectic. Sometimes I can stare at the words and they look fine. Then days later, when I re-read, I see them. It’s a miracle that I was an executive secretary (back in the day there were such things). This is why I chose careers that were hands on.
These days, as Jess grows more and struggles less, I’m less stressed. There is nothing more enjoyable for me than to read a well-written blog, book or story. Well organized thoughts that are clearly written are a pleasure to immerse oneself in. I hope to share this one day with Jess. In order to get there, I need to be fluent in her AAC language.