Thursday, October 9, 2014

AAC Awareness: I Am Not A Mindreader (And Neither Are You)

Are you (or your child's team) hesitating to commit to AAC because:

  • "he has some words and signs and I can basically understand him most of the time"
  • "he prefers to use his voice and gestures to get across what he's trying to say"
  • "I spend so much time with her, I can tell what she's going to say in different situations"

Well, I've got some news that you aren't going to like, especially if you're the mom/dad of a child who can't speak . . . you are not a mindreader. No, you don't know what they're trying to say. Surely, you do some of the time, but the rest of the time . . . well, no. And, by guessing what your child wants to say you are likely assuming it's something simple (vocalizing and pointing at a toy becomes "I want that toy" instead of "I saw that toy at school today!") responding to them in a simple way that doesn't encourage higher level thinking or increased communication (giving them the toy vs. saying "Toy school? Are you telling me this toy was at school? Wow! Whose room did you see it in?") and getting stuck in a low-expectation, low-production loop. 

Plus, how annoying would it be if every time you pointed to an object to talk about it the default response was "Oh, you want that? Here you go."

This week's Throw Back Thursday post uses a concrete example about a school bus and an excited little girl and illustrates how easily (and seemingly correctly) I could predict what she was thinking/trying to say . . . . and then over a dozen ways that I could be wrong.


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