I dread October! October is the month when there is an influx of new referrals for speech therapy services for clients enrolled in day programs for adults with developmental disabilities. It’s not the referrals that I dread, but the number of 22 year-old adults with low to no speech who have aged out of the school system and are entering the adult world without a personal AAC system.
I wish I could say that I no longer see adults leaving school without a personal AAC system, but I can’t. We are making progress, but we are still graduating students without the power of personal communication. I’ve just finished observing 3 new clients who have no functional speech and none of them brought with them, when they graduated from school, an AAC system that belongs to them and gives them access to language.
Their files describe all sorts of intervention that included components of AAC services – use of switches to control computer games, activity-specific displays developed to help them participate in school activities, and conversational scripts with sentences programmed on sequential message devices. Yet, through all of this activity, no personal AAC systems were ever developed. No AAC systems were designed for their specific physical and access needs. No core vocabulary was ever identified and taught. No language was provided which would help them communicate to anyone, about anything, in any setting. And nothing left the school building when they graduated.
And now they are 22 years old. When I’m done writing this blog, I’ll start making each of them a manual communication board so when I see them next week, they will have a start on a personal AAC system. And then I’ll begin the process of doing a formal AAC assessment and, if appropriate, recommend and wait for funding for a speech generating device. It’s never too late to be given the chance to communicate with a personal AAC system, I just wish ……..
- No child with low to no speech would leave elementary school without a personal AAC system.
- No child with low to no speech would leave middle school without a personal AAC system.
- No child with low to no speech would leave high school without a personal AAC system.