Communication Autonomy and Self-Advocacy

As H gets older, he is starting to have preferences (and be able to share those preferences) about his AAC device. Whenever I think there is a word we should add I ask him first. After all, this is HIS voice and I want to show him that I respect that. I also want to make sure that he is involved in decision making early on so that he will feel comfortable self-advocating and making changes to his device on his own someday. Continue reading

“Special Interests” – A Poem

(This was originally posted on my Facebook page several months ago but I am thinking about it today as H is happily playing with his carnival toys!)

Special Interests

[Image is a picture of several carnival toys, arranged carefully, with the text “Special Interests”.]

SPECIAL INTERESTS
Your whole body exudes joy and your soul reverberates with excitement
As you sit and organize your carnival rides.
Each has a place; the cars are in attendance; the people are arranged around and on the rides.
Continue reading

“Appropriate” Play


If you are the parent of or work with autistic children, no doubt you’ve heard the term “appropriate play”. Starting from toddler-hood you hear warnings that you need to teach “appropriate play”, that only certain kinds of play are okay and other kinds, like lining up objects or watching wheels spin, are inappropriate. These kinds of play are said to be dangerous, isolating, “red flags”, wrong. Children who like playing this way will be said to have “poor play skills” or “score low” in play skills.


This is, quite simply, a load of garbage. Continue reading

Happy AAC Awareness Month!

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October is AAC Awareness Month! Locally, we spread awareness just by being out in the community with the Talker. Someone almost always asks, “What game are you playing?” when we are running errands and they are usually really fascinated when they learn about how H uses his Talker. More and more, people are overhearing him talk and asking if he uses it to talk! That is really cool and a testament to how well he’s doing. We’ve never received any negative comments, but I’m always ready for the “kids can’t go anywhere without their technology!” type of comment since there’s a constant barrage of ‘articles’ about screen time rotting brains (that’s another blog post for another day). I’m brainstorming ideas for the rest month – stay tuned!

A Milestone!

Something major happened this week. Something that has never happened before in H’s life. For the first time ever, he was able to tell me something that happened at school that upset him.

You guys, this is a HUGE deal!! Every parent of a child with complex communication needs worries that their child won’t be able to tell them something important that happened while they were apart.

I’m not going to share the details because I will always respect his privacy, particularly with “the hard stuff”. The teacher let us know he had a hard time at one point during the day but they weren’t sure why and I was able to ask him about it when he got home. He was able to tell me how he was feeling at that time (this alone is amazing!) and what he said afterward didn’t quite make sense without any context but then the teacher emailed me more information about what had been going on and I realized he had told me exactly what had upset him!

So, in short. Wow. 1) Talking about big emotions – win. 2) Being able to tell me what caused him to feel that way/what he was thinking about at the time. Huge! Exciting things are happening!

Challenge: Learn to use the Talker!

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[Image shows papers on a table, including a list of words, instructions for the challenge, and monthly calendars.]

In January, I took part in the Speak for Yourself “Learning to Speak AACtion Plan” challenge. This was a 12 week crash course of mini-lessons in learning to speak using H’s Talker. Each week there were just 5 words to learn and each day there was a 5 minute activity to help me learn where the words were. H didn’t have to be involved – this was just to help *me* become familiar with the location of the words on his Talker. It was fabulous! I loved checking in each week and I gained a lot of confidence using the Talker.

With the start of Kindergarten I want to rekindle the motivation. Like a New-School-Year’s-Resolution! Continue reading

Summer Modeling Push

(This post appeared on our Facebook page, here. Follow us on Facebook for extra posts if you have not already!)

This Summer I’ve been wanting to do a big push with modeling words on H’s Talker to help him see all of the different things he can say with it across different scenarios. We have been focusing on 6 core words (but still modeling lots of other things, too). Continue reading

I can do more than request

H has been loving the solar system for months and is able to name the planets in order and name the dwarf planets and the milky way galaxy! He knows attributes of the planets and loves answering questions like, “Which planet is closest to the sun?” and “Tell me something about Saturn” and giggles if I say “Mars is green”. He has also been naming the colors in rainbow order recently.

I’m actually thankful that the planets and colors are out of order on his Talker so no one can say he’s just pressing the words from left to right. I wish that people wouldn’t assume that,  but they do.    Continue reading

Maybe change can start here…

Kindergarten. That big looming chapter ahead of us that is leaving me with so much on my mind. I’ve heard it is difficult for every parent to send their first child to kindergarten, whether or not they have additional needs. On top of the usual mommy stuff, when your child is still working on communication and is mostly non-speaking, it can be hard not to be paralyzed with fear of the “what if” scenarios.   Continue reading