Finding Allies & Developing Next Steps

Quick Overview

Finding friends and developing friendships can be challenging, especially for individuals with disabilities. It is important to create opportunities for social interaction and shared interests. Building a community of support is crucial, and it may be helpful to hire a facilitator or support person to help navigate friendships. It is also important to have open and honest conversations with potential friends and provide support and guidance as needed. Developing vocational interests and job opportunities can also lead to friendships and social connections. Overall, it is important to be patient, persistent, and creative in finding ways to foster friendships and social inclusion.


In this talk, we would like to express our gratitude to the Angelman Syndrome Foundation for their sponsorship and support. We believe that the work we are doing together at a community level is crucial in improving the lives of individuals with Angelman Syndrome. By coming together at conferences, sharing resources, advocating for policy changes, and addressing important topics such as communication and inclusion, we can help reduce the impact of disability on individuals with Angelman Syndrome.

The Power of Community

The World Health Organization defines disability as the result of a lack of support systems. As we increase the systems of support for individuals with Angelman Syndrome, we can decrease the experience of disabling conditions. This is why it is so important for us to come together as a community and create support systems in our homes and in our children’s preschools. By doing so, we can help individuals with Angelman Syndrome experience less disability and lead more fulfilling lives.

The Importance of Allies

Just like the song played at Woodstock by Joe Cocker, we all need a little help from our friends. As teachers and speech pathologists, our goal is to provide families with the knowledge and skills they need to support their child’s communication. We believe that communication is not just about using an app or a technology tool, but about having a comprehensive program that empowers families to become active participants in their child’s communication journey. By continuously learning and seeking out new knowledge and skills, we can better support our children and help them reach their full potential.

The Role of AAC in Communication

One of the key messages we have learned at this conference is the importance of using communication systems with children. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can be a powerful tool for individuals with Angelman Syndrome to express themselves and be heard. By modeling AAC and demonstrating its power, we can show others the benefits of using AAC in communication. We want to equip families with the knowledge and skills to incorporate AAC into their child’s life, and we believe that everyone should have a place at the table when it comes to supporting individuals with Angelman Syndrome.

Taking Communication Out into the Community

We have been practicing AAC out and about in the community for over 20 years. By taking communication systems into different environments and engaging with diverse groups of people, we have seen the positive impact it can have on individuals with Angelman Syndrome. We have even written a book on this topic, which is available for free on Teachers Pay Teachers. The book provides ideas and strategies for using AAC in various activities and settings, helping individuals with Angelman Syndrome become more confident communicators.

Creating Inclusive Communities

In order to create inclusive communities, it is important to value the opinions, knowledge, and skills of parents and family members. Too often, their input is not valued by school providers and professionals. We need to change this and work together to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for individuals with Angelman Syndrome. By using tools like person-centered planning meetings, we can level the playing field and ensure that everyone has a role to play in helping these children lead fulfilling lives.


In conclusion, we all need a little help from our friends. It is never too early or too late to start seeking support and developing communication skills. By finding allies and creating inclusive communities, we can empower individuals with Angelman Syndrome to reach their full potential. Let’s continue the conversation and explore what communication supports mean for individuals with Angelman Syndrome. Together, we can make a difference.

Talk details

  • Title: Finding Allies & Developing Next Steps
  • Author(s): Sam Sennott, Erin Sheldon, Deanna Wagner, Jaquie Mills
  • Author(s)’ affiliation: None
  • Publication date: 2017-08-14
  • Collection: 2017 ASF Family Conference