by Noah Callan | AAC and Technology Coordinator – Kids+
To me, families are the most important thing in life and that level of connection and bond you have with a sibling is like no other. But what if your brother or sister is non-verbal? And as the verbal sibling you want to desperately have a wider and deeper conversation.
We know that siblings combined have created a special language that works well, but Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) can improve this relationship even more.
AAC allows for siblings to play games and communicate but when one of you is non-verbal it takes some time to get that flow in communication going. It’s essential for the verbal sibling to learn patience and wait for the non-speaking sibling to think of their response, and let their full personality shine. We all love some good banter with our brother or sister, whether it be related to sports, movies, a television show or even a hobby which can be shared together.
AAC can also make a difference when playing games like ‘Guess Who’ or ‘I Spy’. The sibling who is helping their brother or sister with AAC can learn that if a sibling has a disability, it does not create a barrier that holds them back from speaking as AAC helps to unlock their voice. Verbal siblings will soon realise that this technology gives an inside view and new perspective to their non-speaking brother or sister and will encourage an even stronger bond. And not only that, creates incredibly knowledgeable advocates for people with diverse communication needs!
Communication is everyone’s business, especially if that communication is between siblings. It takes time for an AAC user to write their message but if you wait patiently, you will hear their voice and what they have to say.
We here at Kids Plus have a program called AACONNECTTM Siblings. This program is designed to guide siblings on their AAC journey. This program facilitates understanding around the world of AAC and some of the challenges siblings may experience along the way. The feedback after we held our first workshop earlier in 2021 was sensational from both parents and participants:
“How good was the vibe of the group as they left yesterday? My child was so excited to teach his brother when we got home” (parent)
“I loved today, it was so much fun” (sibling of a young person who uses AAC)
Our next workshop is on 19th August. Contact us if you’d like to know more