Insufficient Options: Messages to Consider Adding to the AAC Device
How would it feel to be really hungry but allergic to everything on the menu at the only place in town that is still serving food?
Can you imagine finding comfortable shoes that you were dying to buy to wear with your navy suit except that they only had fuschia and neon yellow in your size?
Have you ever been frustrated by filling out a form that gave only choices for racial groups that you don’t identify with?
Let’s face it: It’s incredibly, maddeningly, and impossibly frustrating when our options are overly limited or the choices don’t include things that we want or need. We feel trapped. It’s frustrating, demeaning, and downright infuriating to be constrained in those ways.
And yet, most people who use AAC face that situation every day. Their language is limited by the options available to them in their SGDs, communication books, or AAC apps. Until they are literate, they are constrained by their communication tools.
One thing we can do to ease the frustration is to provide messages that express the problem.
- “It’s not here.”
- “Not one of these.”
- “Not on this board/book/screen.”
- “I have something to tell you but it’s not in here.”
- “I don’t have a way to tell you.”
- “I wish I could tell you what I’m thinking.”
We can also add messages that move toward a solution.
- “Give me more choices.”
- “Ask me Yes/No questions.”
- “I need that word/sentence/question.”
- “Add it to my book/board/device.”
Once added, we can model the use of these messages in our interactions with the AAC learner, and, eventually, teach him/her to use them in repairing communication breakdowns.
Do you have other messages that can help AAC learners cope with the limited options in their communication books/boards/technology? We’d love to hear your ideas.
This post was written by Carole Zangari