After many, many years and conversations in the community with people unfamiliar with Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Nick and his team have put together a comprehensive guideline for the average Joe (or Joe-ette) to reference. Hope it helps all parties within a conversation!
We’ll Start with the Do’s, since they seem more positive:
Do…Hear me. Listen to my words, and ask me to turn up my device or repeat if you do not understand.
Do…Focus on me when I’m talking. My words are important, too.
Do…Realize it is hard to speak in complete thoughts. It takes a lot of work for me to move my arms and find the right word on my speech device
Do…Recognize that I use a combination of gestures and words to get my point across.
Do…Understand my care providers are here to help me communicate. I am the one who wants to talk to you.
Do…Talk to me, not about me or above me.
Do…Talk to me like you would anyone else. I have a sense of humor, and I am just like you!
Do...Respect my personal boundaries. I do not need to be touched while you are talking to me. Family members and care providers need to remember this especially!
Do…Wait for me to finish talking. Be o.k. with quiet as I look for the correct words.
Do…Minimize distractions, it takes a bit of focus for me to communicate.
And now for the Don’ts….
Don’t….Talk too loud. I have a great sense of hearing, my friends call me “bat ears”
Don’t…Move too fast.I need to look at my speech device and cannot always have eye contact with you. Sometimes I miss gestures or facial expressions that you may need to repeat.
Don’t… try to respond for me because I am taking too long.
Don’t…assume I’m unintelligent and talk down to me just because it takes me awhile to respond.
Don’t… talk above my head. I can hear and I have feelings!
Don’t….ask me to perform. I will say the things I want to say when I want to say them (and deal with the repercussions!)