Thanks to Dana Nieder for speaking with the graduate level course on Family Centered and Consumer Responsive AAC Services. Dana is the definition of an empowered parent with a mission to provide the best outcomes for her daughter (http://niederfamily.blogspot.com/p/our-communicationaac-journey.html). As a result, she is an example for anyone interested in providing exceptional services for learners with complex communication needs. Dana provided her perspectives not only as the parent of a child with complex communication needs, but as a member of an “AAC Family”, and a future SLP herself. Dana provided students with strategies to support the self-determination of parents of children with complex communication needs. Some of Dana’s most notable advice included:
“Someone should have said earlier on ‘communication is more important than speech.’”
“Remind parents that there will be a day when their child is not at home with them. It is terrifying to send away a child that cannot talk. Every parent wants their child to have a way to tattle.”
“It’s important to present things to parents in ways that aren’t so academic and mysterious.”
“The more AAC users we can hear from, the better.”
One large takeaway from speaking with Dana is that there is a need for relatable and accessible information for AAC families and users. As future SLPs, we have a major role in promoting that environment and providing that information.
Megan, Hannah, and Ethan