“Seeing is believing” and “actions speak louder than words.”

I was reminded of those sayings recently when I was working with an adult in a residential facility. For the past 11 months, the facility has been undergoing massive renovations.   My “therapy” space is a front porch. It’s not a bad setting on a nice, Florida day. We have a bird’s eye view of everyone coming and going, most of who want to stop and chat for a minute – making for a natural way to practice conversation and language skills.

If I need to work indoors (on blistering hot or stormy Florida days), the only available space is a corner in a “great room,” where the day activities and laundry has been relocated during renovations.   Washers and dryers are running, a radio is playing, and 30 residents have been smushed into an activity space better suited for 10. Not the most ideal therapy setting.  That was the situation in which I found myself.

Because it was nearly impossible to hear the client’s speech output, I did the only thing possible. I cozied up to him and we did our entire conversation through his Eco (SGD). I spoke to him using his Eco and he spoke back to me – all with the speech OFF because we didn’t want to add to the cacophony around us. I would make some verbal comments or give him an instruction every now and then, but basically, it was a completely augmented conversation.

I confess that I had to revert to spelling every now and then because I didn’t know the Unity 144 code or navigational path for a word on a page or in a row, but that was a learning opportunity for both of us. I either asked PDC to show me the code (if he knew it) or we put the word on a list to work on together

After about 45 minutes, one of the caregivers came up to us and said, “I’ve been watching you talking with PDC. I can’t believe you can talk to him on his device. That’s really cool. He talked so much more to you than he ever talks to anyone here.  Could you teach me to do that?”  (I wish you could have seen me do my happy dance.  Now I’m teaching her to model, but that’s a subject for upcoming blogs entitled “Becoming American’s Next Top Modeler” and “Yes, He Could Say ‘Vagina’ If He Wanted To”).

I’ve done a bunch of training at this adult center over the  years, always including “modeling” as a topic.   We all talk about doing modeling, but, if you had too, could you sit down for 45 minutes and carry on a completely augmented conversation?  Maybe that’s the first step when training someone else to model on an SGD.   Attitudes will change when you employ the strategy of “seeing is believing,” and “actions speak louder than words.”

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