Monthly Archives: February 2016

Speech Therapy: Low-Tech Communication

Low-Tech Communication
People without their natural voice and other disabilities use a communication device to manage their lives. Communication at times is all one has full control over due to the severity of their disabilities. As a mentor with severe physical and speech disabilities, I know the importance of a working communication device. Recently, my communication device broke due to it falling from the mount. It happens occasionally and usually the talker comes out fine. It broke this time which meant I was without a voice for a week until I remembered I had a colleague who is a local representative of the talker device company. I was able to use my eyes to tell the aide to call this person! As speech-language pathologists and mentors, we must give our locked-in clients low-tech communication skills for times when they have nothing else to communicate with.
As professionals, we are sometimes so focused on the client obtaining communication devices that we forget about low-tech devices and communication. I want to put this into prospective; yes, communicating with communication devices is more efficient and limitless but machines do break from time to time. We need back up communication for our clients to be able to direct care givers on the steps to take to get the device fixed or who to call for a loaner. A locked-in individual who is high functioning may be able to walk a person through steps to try to fix the situation. During the weekend, I was able to obtain the communication device from my friend while waiting for a loaner from across the state. Giving the clients low-tech communication skills allows the person to talk new or even experienced care givers through the necessary steps to either send the device back for repairs or to get a loaner from someone.
Communication is crucial for people to have access at all times so we must work on low-tech communication! That way, the person will not have a gap in their ability to talk. It can be as simple as eye movements while someone goes through the alphabet. The important thing is that the individual is able to talk with people in the interim of getting the communication device repaired. By me being able to tell someone what to do to rectify the situation, my aide was able to call my friend and I could still work while my communication device was being repaired. Thank goodness!!
Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Speech Therapy: Communication and Literacy

Communication and Literacy

Children who are literate have many options as far as the type of communication device they use and how they can structure the device. I have a colleague who is focused on how to help children become literate as she knows they will have more options for communication devices and just in life, in general. As a mentor, my biggest concern is that most of my clients stop progressing beyond the fifth grade as they feel fully competent with communication on a fifth grade reading level. I want to change this belief and get everyone to continue to progress with literacy skills, as they become proficient using a communication device.
My mentees that can read have a plethora of options for type of communication device and the layout of said device. Literacy for people with disabilities is a path to independence and a good chance to earning higher education. When you are a speech-language pathologist, you’ll want to try to obtain a high level of literacy for your clients. Full literacy will give the opportunity of direct select communication devices with spelling, allowing the client to say whatever they need to and demonstrate knowledge. Most of my client are literate, allowing them to say anything and seek higher education.
If literacy is important for a typical developing child, it is twice as important for a locked-in child. A locked-in child is going to be able to do much more with their life if they are literate. Communication is limitless for a person with significant physical disabilities if they are literate. Once we know our clients has “normal” intellectual abilities and good eye sight, our goal should be to get them highly literate.

Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children