How I Do It: Helping Clients Who Use AAC Connect with their Grandchildren by Rebecca Bright
When a grandparent uses AAC, it can be challenging for them to reconnect with the children in the family. Today, we welcome UK-based SLP Rebecca Bright. Rebecca, who leads the award-winning app development team at Therapy Box, is passionate about helping people with acquired communication disabilities use technology to achieve their goals. In this post, Rebecca shares tips for creating meaningful and successful interactions between grandparents and grandchildren.
I came across a question posed by a person with ALS on a patient support forum that really got me thinking. The person was asking for the shared wisdom of forum users, to help him with the difficulty he was having with his young grandkids getting used to him using an iPad app as his means of communication after his voice had deteriorated.
This got me thinking about how as SLPs we often focus on how our client uses a device and how perhaps they use it with their spouses or primary care givers. Less often we focus on how a grandparent can use AAC with their grandchildren, and the issues that might arise. So I put together a list of ideas that might help:
- Have adults in the family model how they communicate with the person using AAC: Showing young children how they may need to wait for their grandparent to type their message; or how the voice sounds “different” but still is grandpa/grandma is a great way to start. We all know how perceptive children can be on picking up on adjusting their communication based on their parents or older siblings.
- Find familiar activities for shared communication: One of the nicest anecdotes I heard from a customer was that they had pre-programmed the text from their granddaughter’s favourite story into their app. They then read through the story together, with the little girl enjoying her grandfather’s use of different voices in the app and use of emoticons! The shared activities could be playing familiar board games or making cupcakes together.
- Demystifying the app: By showing the grandchild how the app actually works – that is, you type your message here and then press speak – can help a younger child understand where the voice is “coming from”. You might consider encouraging the children to try it out themselves to better understand.
- Using a Bluetooth speaker near to the face: One of the potential scenarios is that a child is distracted by the iPad/app and watching the screen while their grandparent is talking, rather than watching their grandparent. Introducing a Bluetooth speaker, clipped to a collar or shirt pocket; or on a lanyard may help, as the direction of the speech will be coming from closer to the grandparent’s face – promoting better eye contact.
Filed under: PrAACtical Thinking
This post was written by Carole Zangari