During our AAC assessments in Cornwall, we were struggling to engage the families and encourage functional use of AAC devices. Intervention was taking over a year, and our waiting list was growing. Inspired by presentations at CM2011, we initiated parent training prior to the introduction of a device.
We will describe the 'You Matter' programme and our adaptations of it; our devised programme 'AAC Steps'; and the parents we trained and how they became empowered.
We found the parents took control in identifying vocabulary; suggested appropriate activities to stimulate communication; used modelling effectively; made sure the device was available for use at all times; and understood that AAC is a long journey and did not expect miracles. The children met all the set goals faster than expected, and we were able to discharge from the assessment team more quickly.
Parent training is essential to helping parents take ownership of AAC methods and increases the availability and use of a device. Working in partnership with carers and educational staff maximizes the functional use of communication devices.