The start of December triggers tons of holiday excitement. This season is packed with music, games, fun, and laughter and everyone should have the chance to be part of that.
Sometimes people mistakenly believe that a student, family member, or friend who is different (like someone who uses augmentative communication) cannot participate in these activities with everyone else.
But if we choose to think inclusive, there is ALWAYS a way to plan events to fit everyone so nobody has to be left out. Holidays are a time for togetherness, and no one should be relegated to the sidelines.
Here are 9 simple tips for an AAC inclusive holiday.
1. Take Part!
There is a way to include EVERYONE in holiday programs and presentations -- and NO, pushing a person’s wheelchair up to the edge of the group while the rest of the group performs is NOT really taking part. Practice a speaking part so your communicator can say something word by word or customize a speech button to speak a full phrase with a single press, let them design a costume, help them choose a partner, there are so many opportunities -- with a little bit of effort, you can find the perfect one.
Wait, this is a person who cannot easily speak vocally, what do you mean 'sing?' But why should they be left out? Load some simple songs onto an AAC board
(or give them an mp3 or portable cd player) and let your AAC user have a turn to hit start the song while everyone else sings along. Try it for yourself with a CoughDrop Carols Board. Consider helping your communicator lead the choir or ring a bell or tambourine. Help them make their voice heard.
It doesn’t matter who you are, you ought to be able to talk to or write to Santa Claus. Program a speech board to make it possible, or use our Letter to Santa speech board . Use the “share this” option from the drop-down menu in speak mode to email your message, save it as a shareable link, or post it to social media.
4. Tell a Tale!
Get your AAC user involved in a holiday story. Everyone loves to read a good book, but maybe shake things up by starting to read a Christmas Choose Your Own Adventure tale like this one and let your communicator make choices about what the characters should do. You can also add holiday focused TarHeel Reader books to an AAC board so your AAC user can read all about the season.
Maybe your communicator would enjoy taking part in Christmas shopping for family or friends. Use an online catalog from a story like Toys-R-Us or Target to let your AAC to help make choices about what to purchase.
Holiday treats are one of the delicious joys of the season. Aaaaand as an added bonus, following a recipe is a great chance to model language, ask questions, and promote learning. A bit more about cooking and AAC from PrAACtical here.
All people have favorites. Favorite colors, favorite shapes, favorite animals, favorite AAC apps (CoughDrop, of course). Give them a chance to express themselves by making choices about decorating. Even if they can’t get up and around to hang ornaments or string lights they can tell you the color of ornament to place, say higher or lower, be in charge of choosing who hangs the next decoration and more.
8. Share the Magic!
Most AAC centric activities are also fabulous for others as well. Take for example this Portable North Pole which allows you to create a personalized video for a specific child -- who wouldn’t love that (AAC user or not). The same is true of this Capture the Magic photo site which allows you to photo shop Santa into a picture of your living room or classroom. It’s fun for EVERYONE!
Work with your communicator to learn about Christmas or other celebrations for different countries, religions, cultures, and more. THEN, create your own guide to Holidays as an AAC user and share it with others to spread the word. Share it with your class or extended family. Share it on a blog, Facebook, or Twitter page -- or share it with us, we’d be happy to help others see your thoughts (reach out to email@example.com). Read more about how some CoughDrop families do Christmas here.