Augmentative and Alternative Communication Challenge – Days 4+5

These last two days I have really been feeling worn down by my challenge. The things that I would usually find so easy such as chatting to my friends, ordering my lunch and taking part in classes have been such a challenge that now at the end of the week I am feeling very tired.

I definitely feel that my ability as well as my desire to be included socially and educationally has decreased over the week.

Not only have I found myself deliberately avoiding having to communicate with people more than necessary, but I have been found that people who I would normally talk with have been avoiding me too as it is too difficult to chat.

I have been finding it easier to gravitate towards people who understand me better and relying on them to translate what I am saying to others. This has made me feel dependent on others for my basic needs. I have definitely felt less able and less confident in public when I m on my own.

Throughout this challenge and more so towards the end, I have felt as if I have been in my own world which is not accessible to others. I have often felt that I can’t take part in the social world created by others, not without a great deal of patience and translation on their part anyway.

Short interactions have been fine but when somebody asks open questions or discusses a topic more in depth, we often get stuck and I have felt embarrassed by my inability to adequately respond and maintain the conversation.

I have been mainly using a talker app whereby I type in text and an electronic voice says it out loud. This has felt a little like cheating however as many people who use AAC are not able to type out what they want to says due to physical or cognitive disability. Many use much simpler constructions or even simply yes/no buttons. I am also able to understand what my friends and lecturers have been saying, whereas many people using AAC would have difficulties with this as well. My difficulties then have only reflected a fraction of the difficulties those who genuinely use AAC face on a daily basis.

It is a relief to be finished with the challenge but even though I can go back to living life as I have done in the past, I now have a better understanding of just how difficult even simple tasks in life can be for people who use AAC.

A huge thank you to everyone who has helped me this week. It feels great when somebody cares enough to take the time to wait for me to communicate and who perseveres even when the conversation becomes stuck and awkward. It is easy to ignore or breeze over communication with people who use AAC and without those people I would have been very lonely indeed!

Helen Currie

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