Augmentative and Alternative Communication Program
Every parent remembers the first time their child called them “mama” or “papa”. Speech is the principle channel with which a child first communicates with his parents and family, and later on with the environment. Many times, this natural process is disrupted in the child with cerebral palsy. Many children with cerebral palsy have severe communication disabilities and are never able to speak. For years, children and adults with cerebral palsy and severe speech or language disabilities relied on pictures, symbols, and communication boards to supplement their speech, or as a substitute for speaking. They memorized the symbols and letters and, by pointing to these, were able to explain themselves to their parents, caretakers and close environment. The use of such aids is cumbersome and slow and does not allow a child to initiate a spontaneous conversation or resolve the communication difficulties for people who are not in contact with them on a daily basis.
Most people with cerebral palsy and functional motor disabilities face significant barriers that impede their integration in various aspects of life and community. They often feel helpless due to receiving well-intentioned but inappropriate direct assistance – having others do things for them instead of teaching them how to do them for themselves. This pattern enforces their reliance rather than independence, and establishes their inability rather than leading them to the revelation that they can succeed on their own. However, these individuals can succeed if guided towards their own unique way of doing things and communicating, in spite of their disability.
For this purpose, Tsad Kadima developed the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Program to enable children with severe communication disabilities to express themselves, increase social interaction, school performance, and feelings of self-worth. The consistent utilization of AAC tools means that this equipment in our centers is vital in accordance with the Conductive Education approach that advocates for fully activating children with disabilities, both mentally and through movement. Tsad Kadima implements this program in the early childhood facilities in Beer Sheva, and Rishon L’Zion.
AAC includes different forms of communication that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants and ideas. Tsad Kadima places great emphasis on implementing the program to enable children with cerebral palsy to fully engage actively in their classes, both socially and with respect to learning. The AAC Program includes the following components and equipment:
- Technological devices – computers, both regular and touch screens, IPADs and switches.
- Special software- grid computing, TouchChat application for IPAD and Timicco virtual motion system that accelerates the development of motor and cognitive skills.
- Training for the professional team – Conductors, occupational therapists, and assistants.
- Additional speech therapy sessions for the children with cerebral palsy.