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Planning Ahead in Order to Optimize Communication

Posted Jun 23, 2021 - 12:18pm

By Margaret Moore, PRC-Saltillo Blogger

From the time I received my first device at four years old until fourth grade, my mother and my speech therapists asked me to think ahead on what I would like to say for presentations so that they could work on programming my device beforehand. When I took over programming my own device, they encouraged me to be proactive in preparing for basic conversation.

When I know I’ll have to introduce myself to people or update those I know on what I have been up to, I consider topics typically broached in conversation, such as education and work. I then ponder what updates have emerged since I last socialized with acquaintances or how want to be known by new people—where am I in the course of my academics? What have I been asked to do for my job as a PRC-Saltillo Ambassador and for my internship in the publishing industry? Have I received any honors for academics or my extracurricular activities?

I then program my device with comments so I am ready to talk about the basics and my time can be better spent typing the more unique responses that may be unexpectedly required.

Having used AAC for nearly twenty years, I know it can be easy to worry whether others are getting impatient, feeling like they are waiting too long for a response to be typed on the spot. It is important for the user to understand that they cannot possibly anticipate every response that will be needed in the future and to trust that most people genuinely care about them and what they have to say no matter how long it takes. It also is key, though, to program the basics in advance to alleviate some of that concern.

This is something that can be taught to users at a young age—parents and speech therapists can prompt them to think in advance about what they have been up to that they want to tell those with whom they cross paths. If users develop this habit early on, it will become an automatic process that will optimize their communication throughout life.

Communicators In Action  -    aac, communication, partner, programming, language, Accent, friendship