AAC & Change: Teaching & Modeling for Learning & Growth

Mar 28, 2023

What's that thing they say, "the more things change the more they stay the same..."  Something like that.  Whatever the phrase, you just can't go through life without needing to deal with change.

Yes, change is a part of life, but it can be a difficult thing to manage.  Change means something is different, different can be uncomfortable, uncomfortable can be scary, and scary isn't very fun.

But change can also be exciting.  Change means something new, something new means learning, learning means exploring, and exploring can be fun.

Our attitude and actions when it comes to changes that happen around us can help our communicators shape and prepare their own responses to similar situations.

As we model exploring simple, everyday changes in the world, we can help communicators develop the skills they need to deal with change and then apply those skills to different situations when they are needed.

Changes in Seasons

One change we can explore that is easily accessible and often unintimidating is the change in seasons.  We have just come into spring and in many places around the world that means changes in weather, plants, wardrobe, activities, and more.

We can help our communicators explore the idea of change by talking about some of the new and interesting things that come with this season.  Maybe we spend some time looking out a window or viewing images on a computer to talk about what is happening in nature during this season.

CoughDrop has a pre-programmed board set with words that relate to weather and different seasons.  It might be fun to add this board to your CoughDrop sidebar and then use it to talk about the changes you and your communicator can see in the world outside.  

CoughDrop Seasons Speech Board

You might also ask about what activities your communicator likes to do during this time of year.  Are they planning to go the playground, do they like to play or watch a particular game or sport?  What kind of activities do others like to do during this season?  What are your own favorites?  Something new can definitely be something exciting.

Changes in Activities

Another common opportunity to model change can be found in everyday activities.  We can model the process of preparing to adjust from one activity to another to help prepare and engage communicators.

You might consider developing a speech board like this one with some "first/then" options that you can use as a transition between different opportunities.  

CoughDrop First/Then activity board

You could also consider creating a speech board with a kind of simple schedule to help your communicator know what thing is coming next in their day.  That might make the change from one activity to another more smooth because the communicator knows what to plan for and what is coming next.

Change in Surroundings

Spring can sometimes be a time when families plan vacations or travel to new locations.  This can be hard on some communicators.

However, a little planning can sometimes make things easier.  

A speech board like this vacation/road trip board can offer words that may come up more regularly while you travel.  You might want to consider printing a version of this board OR of the communicator main board set to have a physical copy in case their normal device battery dies or there is a problem using electronics.  A printed speech board can be a great backup, but also a great option for quick communication with others in unfamiliar circumstances.  

CoughDrop Vacation/Road Trip speech board

If you know where you'll be heading for your trip, you might consider creating a speech board containing words or options that relate to your vacation.

For example, if you'll be headed to Disneyland, consider adding favorite rides or attractions, preferred characters, or common concerns for that locale for easy communication access.  Don't forget to explore these will your communicator BEFORE you head off on your trip to help them feel more comfortable accessing these options and also to help them know what to expect.  

Changes in foods, changes in school, changes with friends, changes in living space, changes with seasons, changes with EVERYTHING – change happens around us every day.  Because change can be difficult, we can support and encourage our communicators by modeling how to manage and embrace change so they are better prepared to handle it when it comes their way.  

Melissa DeMoux

Former CoughDrop Director of Marketing and Support -- worked with AAC communicators & teams