I love talking about this inclusive idea of ‘all communication is valid‘, decentring speech as the ‘ultimate’ or ‘best’ form of communication.
It’s a deeply important part of being neurodiversity affirming, because when you truly value all forms of communication, you embrace variation in communication skills and preferences of others (and yourself too!).
But while it’s a lovely idea and sounds like a nice catchy phrase, it can be harder to know what exactly this should look like in practice, to embrace, support and value all forms of communication.
For reference – AAC = Augmentative & Alternative Communication = all forms of communication that are not speech, so includes signing, gesture, writing, behaviour, sound, visuals, communication boards, communication apps/devices etc.
3 ways to support AAC learning & use for Autistic kids:
1️⃣ At the individual level, every Autistic child needs to have multimodal communication accessible to them. That means we’re supporting them to learn and understand all different modes of communication. Speech and non-speech, gestures, signs, pictures, visuals, devices, sounds, behaviours, all forms are valid.
2️⃣ At the family level, whether you’re the family of an Autistic child or you’re a professional, supporting families, ensure that we’re modeling without expectation that the child will respond or do any particular thing. Model all forms of communication, show the child how they can use it, but primarily keep the connection and interaction flowing.
3️⃣ At the society level, we all need to check ourselves, check our ableist assumptions and ensure that we’re truly embodying this message, all communication is valid. Speech is not the best form of communication, especially if it is not available or accessible or easy or preferred for an individual in that moment or ever.
REFLECTION 🤔 💭
What are the biases and beliefs that you hold, when you think about different communication methods?
Do you deeply agree with, and show support for the idea that ‘all communication is valid’?
A reminder for Speech Therapists, if you want to learn more specifics about what Neurodiversity Affirming Assessment and Therapy looks like for Autistic Children, join the waitlist for my course ‘Affirming Communication for Autistic Children‘ and get the best deals and early access!
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