Many thanks to Joan Murphy, our Talking Mats Founder, for this great blog sharing Jeppe Forchhammer’s thoughts about the importance of social communication – communicating ‘offline’ – for AAC users:
I met Jeppe Forchhammer at the 2019 ISAAC Conference in Denmark. We had an interesting conversation about the importance of social communication for AAC users and he kindly sent me this presentation and gave me permission to write a blog about his views.
Here are a few quotes from Jeppe but it is well worth reading his whole presentation
We have reached a time where communication systems become more and more electronic. I have noticed that children who need AAC ie augmented and alternative communication are starting more and more early. This I would like to question! In this lecture I will try to explain, why I think it is better to teach the children to use their body first. In order first to get direct communication relation to another person.
I think it is most important for an AAC user first to learn to interact with another person face to face. This is of course important for all infants in particular if they don’t have a spoken language. I think the eyes begins naturally to take over and the baby begin to communicate. At least I began to observe what happened around me using my eyes by watching things around me. In this way I began early to take contact with people around me.
I am afraid that AAC users in the future will lose some of their abilities to communicate with their body or facial expression. Especially if one starts too early. I think there is a risk that the child get blinkers and we have the risk that the child will be introvert. This might give the child some social problems if it doesn´t learn to use and read the body.
We must remember that a good relation is created face to face and not through a Speech Generating Device.
If they only communicate through their speech generating computer they may miss the face to face communication.
Many thanks to Jeppe for his thoughtful and stimulating comments.
If you would like to contact him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The importance of social and non-verbal communication is highlighted in our Talking Mats training courses. If you are interested in accessing this training take a look at our options here – https://www.talkingmats.com/training/