Agosci 2017 – Part 1

Last week I attended a day of the Agosci 2017 conference and it was superb! I caught up with former clients and workmates, colleagues, and met lots of wonderful people committed to sharing knowledge about Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

Colleen Pearce, Public Advocate, began the day with an interesting presentation about her role in protecting the rights of Victorians who have a disability.

Dr. Cathy Binger’s keynote address made a big impression. We watched a cute YouTube clip of a two year old boy at a supermarket and Dr. Binger categorised his language into four language domains:

  1. Pragmatics (the reasons we communicate e.g. asking questions, commenting, requesting)
  2. Semantics (vocabulary and the types of words we use e.g. nouns, verbs, adjectives)
  3. Syntax (how we put words together in sentences e.g. subject-verb-object statements, questions with inverted auxiliary verb “Can I…?”
  4. Morphology (the little bits of language e.g. plurals, prepositions (“in”, “on”), prefixes, suffixes, contractions)

Dr Binger’s analysis challenged the popular notion that kids’ speech is dominated by requesting and highlighted the need for clinicians to target a wider range of pragmatic functions.

She recommended that we collect information about the child’s understanding of language (receptive language skills) and use language data regarding typically developing kids to offer expressive language options in line with the child’s receptive skill level.

Dr Binger spoke about the pitfalls of aligning with a particular AAC language system or vocabulary option. Instead, we should consider the individual’s needs and how each AAC option could address them. Immediate language requirements were contrasted with a person’s long term language needs and Dr Binger outlined how she uses activity displays in conjunction with the person’s AAC system to address this issue.

Her take home message: “Four domains for today, four domains for tomorrow”.

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Sharing Stories with Beautiful Bunting

I recently came across a beautiful handmade product with storytelling at its heart. Karen Chatterley, aka Mrs Buttons, takes sentimental pieces of children’s clothing and creates custom-made bunting that preserves people’s memories. Precious pieces of material from first dresses, favourite tops and babies blankets are upcycled into bunting that is then embellished with buttons and ribbons and transformed into a beautiful keepsake and talking point for years to come.

When I met Mrs Buttons, we spoke about the wonderful way this product acknowledges children’s memories as important and provides children with a beautiful visual prompt that encourages them to share their stories. Mrs Buttons shared her own story about her son Harry who was sad at having outgrown a favourite pair of pajamas he had been given, which led her to devise a way to preserve the memories attached to cherished pieces of clothing. As a former teacher, Karen was also keen to encourage storytelling in families and on her Facebook page, Mrs Buttons urges parents to “tell your child the stories of where the materials came from, of birthdays and Christmases, this is your history, this is what makes your family unique and I hold that dear”.

For information about Mrs Buttons’ bunting and other products, please visit https://www.facebook.com/MrsButtonsAu?fref=ts10665836_739850472748887_6217847796707662063_n10604523_739850502748884_5589915684612110528_o

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International Communication Project 2014 (#ICP2014)

I recently volunteered to become a Communication Champion to support people living and working with communication disorders and raise awareness about the International Communication Project 2014 (#ICP2014).

The ICP2014 aims to:

  • Raise the profile and status of communication disability with international health bodies and policy makers;
  • Increase public awareness of communication disability and the severe impact it has on people’s lives;
  • Encourage people around the world to join together to make a difference in the lives of people living with communication disability

The campaign is based on three key messages:

  • Communication is vital to life
  • Communication professionals make a critical difference
  • Early intervention is key

(Source: Nation for Communication Campaign Booklet, Speech Pathology Australia)

This is a worldwide campaign, with people around the globe sharing their stories about the importance of communication and it is great to have the opportunity to join in this work at the local level.

If you would like to share your story, please contact The Communication Toolbox using the form below:

To sign the ICP2014 Communication Pledge, http://nationforcommunication.org/the-communication-pledge/

For more information, please go to www.nationforcommunication.org