In all relationships, communication is crucial. How often have we heard one half of a couple say:
"My partner doesn't understand me"
Well just imagine if you couldn't talk at all. Then imagine that the people who love you have been advised NOT to give you a means to communicate, such as a picture exchange system or an App because some misguided professional had said that they should wait and "let the words come"?
There you are, unable to follow what people are saying and unable to imitate words in a way that people will understand and respond to
And they want to prevent you from accessing alternative communication? (AAC*)
or you are using AAC in the way that suits you, (pointing at pictures or typing words) and they want to keep drilling you on superfluous grammar or word production or forcing you to comment on things you are not interested in while ignoring what you are telling them.
That's not love!
As I said in my previous post, Parents are capable of the strongest and yes scariest love. Use that love to guide you when making choices about what your kids need.
Is this advice going to bring me closer to my child? Is it going to make it easier for them to connect with me? or for me to understand and connect with them? Am I really following my heart when I'm watching their frustration at not being able to get what they need, or just following someone else's agenda which is not based on experience (or science)
There has been long term, peer reviewed and replicated studies into the effects of providing AAC to people who cannot speak.
where they found that
That's right folks; for people with a communication or speech disability, offering an alternative means of communication actually leads to speech!
Whereas putting it off, waiting for the "words to come" as so many people are advised can lead to frustration, aggression, exclusion and self injurious behaviours.
And yes there is research to back that up too. I attended a presentation recently where they successfully demonstrated that the introduction of functional communication reduced the incidence of self injurious behaviour to almost zero in a very short time. Because the pictures replaced the self harming as a means of getting what they wanted.
So please, share my message and show your love. Everybody deserves to heard.
*Further reading on the benefits of using Alternative and Augmentative Communication:
Vincent Carbone (my guru) study into increasing vocal responses using sign language to prompt appropriate requests (or 'Mands' as we call them in behaviour analysis)
Andy Bondy and Lori Frost and studies into using picture exchange communication to prompt appropriate communication with reference to the development of speech in previously nonvocal students.
My as yet unreviewed Guide to Grace App is here - I am still looking for some masters students to do a study.
If you want to help people get a 'voice' using technology. You could donate your old iPhone/iPod or iPad to iPhones4Autism in Ireland
or you could donate any old phone to the wonderful Hearts and Minds phones UK who are raising funds for an Autism school in Manchester while providing iPads to people who need them to communicate.
And in Australia there is Turn a Life Around for the people of Bendigo in Victoria.