Recently Tayla Brown, Speech Pathologist from Trusted Clinical Services, caught up with Ross Navara and his team for AAC Awareness Month and this year’s theme “Show Your Voice”. The goal is to raise awareness of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and the many different ways people might communicate, such as through symbols, pictures, sign language, communication books, and speech-generating devices.
Ross is from the Bega Valley, and loves the outdoors, his family, making fires and being active. His mother, Katrina and key worker, Alistair spoke with Tayla about Ross’ AAC journey, how his AAC lets him call the shots and the positive impacts this has had.
How does Ross show us his voice?
Ross shows his voice through his body language, Key Word Sign, visual schedules and the use of his PODD communication book, including his yes/no communication card. His daily visual schedule is one of the strongest voices that he refers back to and shares with many people in his life. Katrina spoke about the ownership Ross shows over his communication books as an important part of his identity and daily routine.
How does AAC let Ross call the shots?
Ross says that he likes that AAC lets him ask questions and tell others when he’s angry. His family loves that AAC has given Ross a “very powerful voice in choice and control” and a way in which to express himself, question and clarify things. Alistair shared that Ross has in the past been an unassertive or compliant individual, and AAC has expanded his opportunities to make real decisions, rather than others assuming them on his behalf. In fact, Katrina jokes that probably the most significant thing is Ross now has the strong ability to nag and say no!
What are some of the positive effects of Ross having access to AAC to show his voice?
One of the biggest positives for Ross’ team is being able to “check-in” with him and unpack complex situations, questions or feelings. The use of the PODD and Yes/No communication cards has meant less frustration and miscommunication for everyone. The relief on Ross’ face when we get it right and he is understood is priceless! Ross has also developed quite a skill for storytelling using his AAC. Sometimes these stories are real events or sometimes they are made up, but they allow Ross to be creative and express adventures that typically include many of the people, places and activities important to him. AAC has also given Ross different ways to connect with his family, particularly his young nieces and nephews, who Ross loves to spend time with.
Ross’s journey with AAC has been going for over 15 years and he is still learning and communicating new things to us all the time. His family and support team and the consistent efforts they have made as communication partners to model, recognise and make space for his communication have been vital to Ross’s ability to successfully and confidently share his voice.
Written by Tayla Brown, Speech Pathologist.
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