What Do Kids Tell Use About Assistive Technology Use?
I was born without a left hand. Prosthetics available to me and my parents were quite simplistic at the time and did not resemble a hand (I had a hook, shown here in the picture). I hated it, I was more capable without it, but the therapists and MDs advised my parents to use it. They believed that it made me look more "normal" and that in time, it would help me. At the age of 12, I was finally able to convince my loving parents and intelligent doctors that this was indeed not something I needed.
I have met many individuals with an arm similar to mine. Some were born this way, as I was, and others lack of a hand resulting from an illness or accident. Many of these people do not find a prosthetic device useful, again like me, while many others do. It was ultimately a personal decision for each of us.
As a speech-language pathologist assisting children to use assistive technology such as a Speech Generating Device (SGD), this personal experience is a reminder to me that although I am the specialist, the child ultimately knows themselves best. My job is to introduce the child to the tool- the communication system or systems, model their uses over time, with different communication partners, and for multiple communicative purposes. Only then, can the child decide how assistive technology is going to work for her. Successful assistive technology use or integration is a process, often iterative. We don't know what is going to work until we try. We have to be willing to reevaluate frequently and we have to respect what the child ultimately deems beneficial for themselves.
I see many of us struggling with AAC and AT implementation and use. Children, their families, their teachers and even the specialists- speech-language pathologists. It has been my experience, that when I put my direct teaching strategies aside, model the use of the communication devices, up the fun, and follow the child's lead- communication happens.
Let the child choose the assistive technology that works best- for them.