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How Augmentative Communication (AAC) Can Help Holiday Voices Be Heard

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Who doesn’t love a good Christmas story? Tales of fun and festivity and family are a vibrant part of the season. This really is a wonderful time of year.

But some festive moments can be more difficult than others. When augmentative communication is part of your everyday life, holidays can be a little bit more tricky. That’s where these stories become more than just stories.

A handful of families of children who use CoughDrop for AAC have decided to share their experiences, showing ways AAC helps them have a happy holiday. Maybe their Christmas communication adventures will inspire others to engage more fully in helping holiday voices to be heard and make this season a little more merry.

1. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.

“I think one of the most important things we do is to make sure our daughter has access to her device as much as possible. She surprises us with how creative she can get with using it. On the way home from buying a Christmas tree, our daughter said “Like, Forest.” She doesn’t have Christmas tree on her speech boards, and it was neat to see her figure out a different way to tell us she had a good time.”

“As we were decorating the tree, I found the coinciding button for each item as we put them on (star, candy cane, gingerbread man.) Our son was pretty funny about that and would wait impatiently for me to finish hanging each object so he could hurry and find the next one. “

2. Sing a Christmas Carol.

“One thing we do every year during December is go caroling. In order to include our oldest daughter, we have recorded our younger daughter singing some Christmas songs. We change them so they’re ever so slightly lower to match our older daughter’s voice, and then put them on a button on her device so she can sing with us. It’s been so fun to see her face light up when we go caroling and she can sing along with the family.”

“Music is my son’s thing, and he has an obsession with Mannheim Steamroller, but he was getting frustrated when I couldn’t figure out which song he wanted to hear. We use the Amazon Echo to run a lot of things in our home, so we actually programmed in his top 5 songs, and he can push a button that says “Alexa, play ‘Deck the Halls,’ by Mannheim Steamroller,” and boom. Alexa listens and plays the song. Much less frustrating, and he gets to be independent.”

3. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

“Holiday gatherings tend to be noisy and overwhelming. For the most part our child does well with crowds, but sometimes she gets overwhelmed and it’s important to her that we are observant to what she’s feeling. Taking her on a walk or out to the hall is a common occurrence and allows her to be a part but also get a break. We’ve learned to be OK with missing out on some things when it’s going to be too hard on her.”

“Our son hates the unexpected, so before we do anything out of the ordinary (have family over, go for a drive to see lights, etc.) we always show our boy what we are doing, and try to be as specific as possible. Not just “someone is coming over,” but “Grandma is coming over in her white car. We are going to eat dinner.” For some reason, if he sees it laid out on his speech board for him rather than just hearing it verbally, his anxiety seems to be less. It also gives him a chance to respond (usually with “I want Doritos,” but still…)”

Happy Holidays! May your season be filled with the voices of those you love, however they communicate.

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Originally published: December 21, 2016
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