Angel Voices: Creating a Community of AAC Users
The speaker discusses their experience running a social group for children with Angelman Syndrome who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). The group, called Angel Voices, focuses on promoting communication skills and creating a sense of community among AAC users. The speaker shares the activities and strategies that were effective in the group, such as music and movement, sensory crafts, and writing activities. They also discuss the challenges they faced, such as finding an appropriate space and managing behavior. The speaker highlights the positive outcomes of the group, including increased use of high-tech AAC systems and improved social interaction among the participants. They also provide tips for starting similar groups and discuss their plans for the future, including expanding to include adults with Angelman Syndrome.
Welcome to Angel Voices, a social group for AAC users. In this talk, I will share the story of how Angel Voices came to be, what it looks like, and provide some ideas for starting a similar group in your own community.
Angel Voices started in the summer of 2014 when I was working with a preschooler with Angelman Syndrome. We wanted to find a way to reduce the cost of therapy for the family, so we decided to start a monthly music and movement group for local preschool-age children with Angelman Syndrome. The group quickly grew in size and popularity, and we eventually had to rent a larger space to accommodate everyone.
The Group Activities
Angel Voices is divided into two groups: one for children aged 9 and under, and another for teens and tweens aged 10 and up. The younger group focuses on activities such as music, sensory-based crafts, and dancing. The older group engages in writing activities, games, and more advanced communication exercises.
Throughout our sessions, we found that certain strategies were more effective than others. These included paying attention to sensory regulation, being flexible with activities, using visual supports, and rewarding positive behavior. We also learned the importance of finding a suitable space for the group, ensuring accessible bathrooms, and avoiding activities that were too messy or required excessive cleanup.
One of the most surprising outcomes of Angel Voices was the progress made by the participants. By the end of the nine-month program, every child who regularly attended had either made significant progress or transitioned from no system to a high-tech AAC system. Additionally, parents reported feeling a greater sense of community and found value in sharing resources and information with one another.
Looking ahead, we hope to find a lower-cost or free space for the group, increase our library of visual supports, and create a website for sharing research and tips. We also plan to offer parent trainings and explore the possibility of organizing outings for the older participants.
Angel Voices has been a rewarding and unique experience for children with Angelman Syndrome and their families. By creating a community of AAC users, we have seen significant progress in communication skills and a sense of belonging among participants. We hope that our story inspires others to start similar groups in their own communities, fostering robust communication and support for all AAC users.
- Title: Angel Voices: Creating a Community of AAC Users
- Author(s): Kate Ahern
- Author(s)’ affiliation: Easterseals
- Publication date: 2015-08-19
- Collection: 2015 ASF Family Conference