By Mike Hipple, board member of United States Society of AAC USSAAC and founder of Wisconsin AAC Network
Your child might be nonverbal, but they have a lot to say. My name is Mike Hipple. I use a communication device to speak, because I am living with Cerebral Palsy [CP]. I help families who have an AAC user to have a way of communicating with their love ones, their teachers and their aides, and their friends. Like most of us in the AAC community, we are seeing more and more people who have Autism use AAC. Like my friend, he uses an app on his Ipad to communicate his feelings and his amazing thoughts to his parents, his school team, his community aides, and me. Every time I get a message from him, I think “wow, is it his father that wrote this.” No, he writes everything himself like most people who have autism and use AAC.
I remember my first friend who has Autism and uses AAC. Like most parents, his parents were afraid that if he has a communication device, he would never learn how to talk. His speech therapist and I told his family that we weren’t going to quit on working with him on talking. I believe it is great if the child can speak a few words and people near to them like their family members, could understand what they are saying. But what about when the child is at school? They need to be able to tell the teacher what the answer is to a geography question, they need to be able to share their feelings, and when they need to go to the bathroom. That is what AAC do. I have been so lucky to talk to parents and adults who have Autism and use AAC, they always tell me a story about the first time they heard their child’s first word. I will never get tired of listening to these stories, because their stories are amazing to me and it keeps me going to help more families.
Dr. Temple Grandin didn’t speak until she was 4. Carly Fleischmann [her book is a must read] didn’t use any kinds of Augmentative Alternative Communication until she was 11. Now, she is a great writer. Please watch her funny and interesting videos on YouTube.
United States Society of AAC [USSAAC] is the only society in America that supports exclusively Augmentative Alternative Communication. We offer amazing webinars to grow your AAC knowledge. We have a magazine called “Speak Up.” We have a Twitter page and Facebook, please follow us and Wisconsin AAC Network. We do a twitter chat on the 2nd Thursdays of the month at 7 PM EST host by a specialist in the field of AAC. If you have an idea or a question for USSAAC please write on our Facebook. We love to hear from you.
To learn more about what is USSAAC, please visit our website at www.ussaac.org. We are looking forward to be working with the Autism Society of America to help the children and adults who are nonverbal to be heard.