Abbie is a young lady affected by Cerebral Palsy, Pierre Robin Syndrome, a hearing impairment and speech and language difficulties.
To communicate, Abbie – like many of the children, young people and adults we support – uses a mixture of British Sign Language and a speech generating device called a Dynavox. This is absolutely crucial to Abbie as it enables her to be independent and to be heard.
To raise awareness of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Month, Abbie wanted to share her story.
This is what she had to say about how she communicates, in her own words.
Hello, my name is Abbie. I am 25 year old. I live in Newcastle. I have 3 pets. I have a dog called Poppie and 2 guinea pigs called Rosie and Roxy.
To communicate I use my Dynavox Maestro and I use BSL. Not everyone can understand me when I use BSL. I use my left hand with my Dynavox to touch the screen. I have a problem with my right side. I have over 100 symbols or words on each page. When I can’t find the word I need I type it out.
When I was young I had a different Dynavox and a communication book. I was 10 when I started communication with a Dynavox. I am 25 year old now. If I have problems with Dynavox I use my communication book. I ask staff for the book by pointing and point to the symbol.
When I use a phone I communicate with my Dynavox. I put phrases or words on my Dynavox.
I go to Hedleys Able 2 four days a week. I use Dynavox all the time I use communication at home and at Able 2. When I go out I take my Dynavox.
I can use my Dynavox on video for Facebook. I can also listen to music from my Dynavox. I already have my own blog on Facebook about my Dynavox. I make videos about my day and activities I have taken part in and post them on Facebook for my friends to watch and listen to. I hope people learn and enjoy my posts.
I have messages in my Dynavox which help to say how to talk to me including “I speak using a computer so please give me time to type”, “please can you be quieter so I can concentrate” and “please stand in front of me so I can lip-read”. When using my Dynavox give me time to type. I can’t do fast because I need time to think. I will be frustrated if people keep asking questions before I have finished. If a room is loud I ask please talk a little louder and please say that again.
Speech therapists help me learn more about Dynavox. My Dynavox help me talk to people and be heard. It give me independence, I can ask questions and answer people’s questions. It is important to me so I can explain anything that’s going on very clearly. I can talk to staff and my friends and family. In fact anyone at all.
I am happy using my Dynavox.