You just got a high-tech device for your child and you're looking through all the available icons and pages. It can seem a little overwhelming at first! Learning a new device is honestly like learning a new language. Where do you click to ask someone to stop? What page do you click on to say "uh-oh!" after you spilled something? What icon means, "help"?? For some individuals, they are quick to learn where new symbols are as well as the function/use of them. However, this is not always the case, and it can be hard to not get discouraged!
If you have been reading some of our posts and other blogs, we have discussed getting “buy in” from the child using the device. But we have not discussed “buy in” from the parent or caregiver, which is just as important! Although it can feel daunting to learn a new way to communicate, modeling use of your child's AAC device during social communication opportunities and functional communication opportunities is one of the best ways to help your child learn to use their device and get their "buy in". Truth is, children are very motivated to use their device by observing their loved ones and others use it! Which means it's also not just you learning your child's system - it's important for everyone communicating with the child to learn the AAC system along with them.
You are not going to get buy-in from asking your child questions, especially about the things they see around them. This can sometimes look like a “drilling” activity. Instead, start by picking out a few simple routines where you can learn the device by modeling. This can help make learning the device seem a little more manageable. Here are a couple of examples:
Laundry (sorting laundry beforehand, or after they come out!):
It’s critical to not always model what you think the child wants or needs, but for them to see you model what you want or what you need, as well as how you can participate in a conversation. Try checking out the joke page or preprogramming some interests for the whole family to share stories or talk about recent shared events.
Chloe is a Speech Pathologist at Picky Eaters Online who has a variety of experiences working with all ages. She has her Graduate Assistive Technology Certificate from East Carolina University, which allows her to evaluate and help individuals find a device to help them communicate. Chloe is offering virtual AAC consultations at the local and national level for pediatrics to adults with developmental disabilities. She can provide 1:1 training to individuals, their families, and ABA professionals to help integrate communication systems and can help tailor your child’s needs with a system that will help them grow their language skills. Contact Chloe by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule your consultation here.