_ By Jenni Koebel, PRC Ambassador_
Like any other teenager, I used to try to take the easy way out in doing certain things. One of those things was communicating my needs and wants to my care givers. I would try to get away with typing a word or two to express what I wanted to say, instead of typing a whole sentence.
The adults in my life kept getting on me about I needed to talk in complete sentences. I did not understand why it was so important. They knew what I was talking about. It just seemed to be a waste of time and energy to have to type everything that I wanted to say in complete sentences. I was not aware of the fact that some day I would have to talk to people who did not know me nor what I needed.
Today I am so glad that I had adults in my life who forced me to expand my language skills to give me the basic knowledge to communicate with everyone in society in a proper manner. By combining sentence structure and advance vocabulary, I am able to hold meaningful conversations with whomever I choose.
It is easy to allow children who use AAC to give one or two word responses just because it is a lot faster. However, allowing them to give these short responses does not give them the tools to talk to people outside of their circle of everyday life. They have to be able to talk to anyone at any given time.
Encouraging children who use AAC to talk in complete sentences also improves their grammar, language, and the use of their AAC program. These skills will not only enhance their communication skills, but they will also improve their quality of life by giving them tools to gain certain skills for the future, such as job skills.
I realize that some children who use AAC do not have the energy or stamina that it takes to construct sentences word for word. I believe that each child with a disability should be monitored closely to evaluate how he or she is progressing within the learning process. If the child seems to be wearing out due to the amount of energy being used or mentally unable to complete a task, modifications need to be made to the task to enhance his or her ability to do it. Whereas if a child seems to show disinterest in the task due to lack of motivation, the child should be motivated to succeed.
Every single child deserves that maximum opportunity to succeed in life!
Communicators In Action