Meet Whitney and Ale: Using Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is a specialized service at Children’s Village and includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants and ideas. We all use AAC when we make facial expressions or gestures, use symbols or pictures, or write.
People with severe speech or language problems rely on AAC to supplement existing speech or replace speech that is not functional. Special augmentative aids, such as picture and symbol communication boards and electronic devices, are available to help people express themselves.
Whitney Murphy, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a Speech-Language Pathologist at Children’s Village and has been working with Ale since 2012. Ale is now 12 years old. We interviewed Whitney about her time with Ale. Read on for the interview.
Q: What speech generated communication device does Ale use?
A: She uses the DynaVox Maestro. The Maestro is like an iPad; and helps Ale to communicate with symbols, photos, words, letters or a combination of all.
Q: What is her biggest accomplishment to date?
A: Alejandra is so social and confident! And I think this has a lot to do with her Maestro. She greets people in the lobby when she comes to therapy (strangers and familiar people). She’s excited to show off her “voice.” Ale is a multi-modal communicator and we utilize a total communication approach. She communicates by using her limited speech, signs, gestures/pointing and by using her Maestro.
Q: How would her life be different if she did not have access to the services at Children’s Village?
A: This specialized service at Children’s Village gives Ale the chance to interact with other children her age with similar needs and communication styles. Just the other week, Ale and another client were saying “hello and how are you?” through their devices. Ale’s face lit up! I believe she’s the only child at her school with a Maestro, so being able to interact with children “just like her” is empowering. It is my goal to begin a “device user group” as a social meeting for these kids and their parents. Ale would be a perfect candidate for something like this; she’s very proficient in using her device. She would also be a great peer model – someone who teaches younger children how to use their device like she does!
Watch these great videos of Ale using her Maestro!