“Remember when?”

That was a lead-in phrase that I was recently using with an AAC user (who I will call “Dave”).  His dad and sister asked me to work with Dave  to prepare him for an upcoming family reunion.  Dave is often very out-of-sync when people are “visiting” with each other.  He just doesn’t know how to initiate topics of conversation during social interaction.   (No one really knows what to say when Dave brings up the subject of his g-tube or the noise in his group home.)  So, Dave ends up on the fringe of the social group, listening instead of talking.

Using role playing and some scripting (done with the PRC PASS software), Dave and I practiced three “remember whens” so that he could initiate and participate in the conversation.  (Thanks to Dave’s dad and sister for the family stories.)

  1. Remember when we all stayed together during the bad hurricane?
    • Comments to maintain: It was scary, but fun. We ate bad food.  It was hot. No power in house.
    • Pre-stored general comments: I’ll never forget it.  That was a good time.
  2. Remember when you fell in the lake as a kid?
    • Comments to maintain: Your dad got you out.  Your mom was mad.
    • Pre-stored general comments: I’ll never forget it.  That was a good time.
  3. Remember when you stayed at my house for Christmas?
    • Comments to maintain:   You slept in my room.  We stayed up late.  We got up early for presents.
    • Pre-stored general comments:  I’ll never forget it.  That was a good time.

We practiced and practiced, and then I crossed my fingers, waiting to hear from his family!   Would Dave remember to ……prepare his “remember when” (word-by-word). LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN to what the other person said.  Then say (using a pre-stored sentence WITHOUT any text appearing in his display) “just a second. I have a comment to make.”)  And then, compose a maintenance comment or use a pre-stored general comment.

Good News……  A text message from his sister said “Dave used all 3 of his remember whens.  He even made up one of his own.  He was the star of our reunion!”  I learned he NEVER used any of his pre-stored comments, but did add comments to maintain the topic.  Our rehearsal seemed to help him “remember when” that event happened, refreshing the story in his mind.  By asking others to “remember when” with him, he got them talking while he composed comments too.  All-in-all, practicing “remember when” resulted in authentic, successful conversations with people important to Dave!