Abbie’s Blog: When I was young

AbbieRegular blogger Abbie is affected by Cerebral Palsy, Pierre Robin Syndrome, a hearing impairment and speech and language difficulties. From a very young age she had to learn different ways to communicate because of this. In her latest blog, Abbie talks about how she adapted her communication methods and the vital support she received from the Foundation’s Speech and Language therapists.

I have always had a hearing impairment. I think I was about 3 when I started wearing hearing aids.  I used to wear a hearing aid battery box – which was separate to my hearing aids (hearing aid technology has come a long way since then!)

When I was at school, maybe 6 or 7, I start driving my power wheelchair.  When I first started driving my powerchair, I felt scared, because it was new, but with practise I’m alright!

I don’t remember exactly when I got my first VOCA (Voice Output Communication Aid), it was a long time ago.  I was maybe about 5 years old. At first, I just played with it, pressing buttons to see what they did, this is one way I learned to communicate with it.  I wasn’t sure how I was doing at first but with experience realised that I could talk to people.  I met a Speech and Language Therapist on my first day of school and as well as my own hard work, they also helped me to learn how to use my VOCA.

I also use BSL (British Sign Language) to communicate.  I have always known a little bit of Sign Language but, when I went to Percy Hedley College I learnt more.  My friend is a very fast signer, I can understand her when she signs slowly but sometimes need to tell her to slow down!  I have also helped other people to learn some Sign Language, I know it helps us to work better together.  My mum and sister went to learn BSL at Newcastle College so we can now Sign together.

I know I have learned a lot from when I was young and have come a long way in my communication. People I work with now say I am a really good communicator and that I teach them how to communicate better!

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