Consider Changes

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As each of us faces a life change or transition, we adjust our needs and behaviors to respond to the changes. When I moved to Philadelphia from the Midwest, I stopped going to shopping malls. It was around the same time that Amazon came on the scene. My response to the change was to start using online shopping for my daily needs. I changed my behavior because my life changed.

Communication is particularly sensitive to transition. For all of us, our communication changes as we move through life. We use phone calls, video calls and texting more when we are distant from the people we love. Our vocal pitch and cadence change when we communicate with a new child. As we age, we might need hearing aids – a communication tool. Vocabulary changes with our interests, jobs, and relationships.

Significant transitions include when we move from one system of support to another. We move from school to adult systems. We move from our family home into the community. We get a new job. We make new friends. With each change, there are new interactions and new communication partners.

Every time the people we support experience a transition, we have to consider Communication. Consider communication when a person with complex needs changes home situations. Consider communication when a person shows interest in new things. Consider communication when a person gets to interact with new and unfamiliar people.

In addition, we experience micro-transitions all the time. A support person changes. And changes again. And changes again. Medication changes. Television shows change. Schedules change. Health changes. How resilient is the person’s communication in the face of these micro-transitions?

Familiar people may understand what the people we support are saying. However, because of change, they may need to speak with people they don’t know. Maybe, a caregiver gets sick. A first responder is needed. The person gets lost.

We need to look at how the change impacts a person’s ability to communicate. If a person’s communication system is not agile and robust, we may need to consider expansion.

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This hour-long video talks about transition for AAC users from their perspective. It was produced by USSAA.

Deepen Your Understanding

From: Transition Strategies for Adolescents and Young Adults Who Use AAC by McNaughton, David B., Ed.; Beukelman, David R., Ed. Brookes Publishing

To make a smooth transition to a fulfilling, self-determined adult life, young people who use Augmentative-Alternative Communication (AAC) need effective services that meet their individual needs and make the most of advances in technology. Professionals will provide these critical supports with the help of this book, the first complete guide to supporting the journey to adulthood for people who use AAC. Combining the best research-based practices from diverse fields–including special education, vocational rehabilitation, and communication disorders–this essential resource covers every aspect of transition planning for young adults with a wide range of disabilities. Throughout the book, guidance from top experts is woven together with the personal stories of young adults who use AAC, shedding light on the challenges of transition and the research-based strategies that lead to positive outcomes. A much-needed resource for transition and employment specialists, vocational rehabilitation specialists, and special education teachers, this groundbreaking book will help professionals prepare young people who use AAC for successful adult lives–in school, at work, and in the community.