Jessie has been using an iPad app called Speak for Yourself to talk for nearly two years. During this time, she has developed her own style of talking. For her, it hasn’t been as important to make a complete sentence as it has been to keep up with a conversation. She will say two to three words and then pepper with other words to make her point. The reason for this is AAC is not as fast as the human voice. Even an efficient AAC user will find themselves a few conversations behind by the time they build their sentence. With SFY, it requires only two taps to open words. Other systems require categories which means multiple layers which causes even more delays. These delays were discouraging to Jess. As Jess’s language grew, more taps withmore layers made it too inefficient. She wanted to rely on non-verbal cues. This all changed when we found Speak for Yourself.
Jess has had years of watching and listening and she makes a point of simplifying any process. Even though she is successfully using SFY, I’m always looking to find ways to encourage her to talk more. I’ve found that new activities spark the most conversations.
Yesterday, when Jess came home from the OTC*, using babble she asked for marshmallows. We had just purchased a bag the day before, she knew they were in the pantry and I see nothing wrong in buying her motivation. In this case, there was a lot more to talk about. We had plans for these marshmallows, but not until after dinner.
Before we sat down to eat, I asked husband to make a fire, Jess quickly got the lighter. She may not talk much, but she is always listening. I’m afraid most people make assumptions when it comes to the non-verbal. Just because someone is not talking, doesn’t mean they aren’t listening and thinking.
The fire was just what we needed to take the chill out of the air. By the time dinner was done, the fire was perfect for roasting. It’s hard to admit this, but Jess has never had roasted marshmallows! As far as she is concerned, this is something to be eaten out of the bag when mom isn’t looking. Tonight she was in for a treat. Jess was going to see a new purpose to our double sided fireplace other than eavesdropping.
Once the marshmallows were roasted, we made our own version of S’mores. Instead of using chocolate and graham crackers, we used flat, chocolate covered pretzels. Yum! Not only did we have a tasty treat, but this gave us a lot to talk about too. With this one activity, we added the words: light, fire, fireplace, roast and marshmallow.
This time of year, the last thing we need is dessert, however, there is nothing sweeter than having a conversation with my daughter.
OTC = occupational training center