And June means that summer is here! The end of school, the start to fun and so many things to look forward to. Sprinklers and bikes and sunsets and friends -- summer is a great time to be alive.
But summer can also be a tough time for communication -- especially when solid communication already takes extra work like it does for those who use augmentative communication. In summer we leave the structure of the classroom and head to the more fluid schedules of the world outside the school.
Still, that doesn’t mean AAC communication should be abandoned until fall. Here are some ways families and supporters can keep AAC communication turned on all summer long.
- So it might seem to go against everything else we just said, but remember that sometimes leaving their AAC device behind might be a good thing. While AAC should ALWAYS be available (oh my gosh, are we ever advocates for that) once in awhile seeing the device left behind in favor of play and fun can be a really beautiful thing. Communication is much more than vocalized phrases, and there are times it’s ok to set aside the world of words in favor of interactions of another sort (after all, it’s hard to play tag while toting your iPad along).
Make a plan for times when the AAC device isn’t the best fit. At the pool, at the beach, on a roller coaster, camping -- there are times when a high-tech device might not be the best communication tool. But that doesn’t mean communication has to go out the window. Print out basic AAC boards that can help communicators share their message even in situations where their regular device is not a good fit.
Check out an AAC summer camp. Camps are a good way to engage with other AAC users and have a GREAT time while they’re at it. A change of scene is often an exciting adventure, and communication camps are usually staffed by people to understand the unique needs of AAC users.
Summer reading is for EVERYONE. Make reading a regular part of your summer. Plan trips to the library, or peruse stories online if a physical trip to the house of books is not a good fit. Many libraries offer free summer reading programs with incentives and activities for participants. A lot of communication heavily linked to words, and reading is a superb way to bulk up a growing vocabulary. Don’t forget that CoughDrop has created a feature which can link speech boards directly to TarHeel Reader books to connect reading and AAC. Learn more about that here.
Plan ahead for vacations. Summer is often a time of trips and excursions, but sometimes traveling with an AAC device means extra considerations and attention. Find some tips about traveling with AAC in this post.
Talk and talk and talk some more. Summer is a time full of things to talk about. The best chances for learning sometimes start with fun. Don’t miss the opportunity to practice core vocabulary while having a great time. Pair a trip to the park or a hike in the woods with words like “up, down, go, play, want, open, fast, slow, get” and more. Use “draw, big, little, colors, letters, numbers, make, and put” while finger painting or using sidewalk chalk. Include core words when playing board games or planting flowers. Summer is full of things to talk about.
Yup, summer is all about fun (but that doesn't mean we can't sneak in doses of learning and growth on the side).