A couple of months ago, I came across a wonderful series of books titled Something to Say written by Eden Molinex and illustrated by Natalie Beauvois. Eden is a certified speech language pathologist and a children’s book author who is passionate about making a difference with her children’s books. As a speech language pathologist and author myself, I love supporting others with the same mission. I was especially excited to see that she published a children’s book titled, Something to Say About My Communication Device, which is perfect for the children on my caseload who use AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication).
As a speech language pathologist who specializes in the field of AAC, I am always on the lookout for books that children can relate to without functional speech. When I first received, this book I read it all day to my clients who use AAC. I read it from children ages 4 and up. One of my teen clients also enjoyed the book and immediately identified with the main character, Kate who uses a communication device. I love the way that Eden wrote this book because it’s simple, right to the point but perfectly on target with what we want others to know about using augmentative and alternative communication. It’s not only ideal for children who use AAC, but also very valuable for teachers to read in a group to help explain what AAC is and how it should be used in the classroom and during functional communication opportunities. Eden writes a series of books titled Something to Say which includes books about children who have speech delays and disorders and for those that stutter. After reading this book, I immediately reached out to Eden who graciously gave me some wonderful and valuable information to share with my readers. I couldn’t agree with Eden more about children with disabilities being underrepresented in children’s literature.
Thank you Eden!
What inspired you to write the book, Something to Say about my communication device?
I have always been passionate about self-advocacy and how we can support our students in building their ability to talk about their communication needs with others. Children with special needs are underrepresented in children’s literature, and those who have communication differences are even more so. Books are empowering, and it is exciting to me to think of what it would mean for a child who uses a communication device to see a strong character represented on the pages of a book using AAC!
What are the best ways you have used this book during therapy sessions?
It has been so special to see the reaction of children as we read this book together! I have been excited about the growing number of ways in which this book can be used in therapy and in other contexts. It can be used to motivate children who are reluctant to use their communication device, to demonstrate contexts and purposes for which their devices can be used, to help peers understand communication differences and encourage them to ask questions, and to model for children how to talk about their communication needs (e.g., Kate says, “I need to have my talker everywhere I go. It is my voice”).
I love using books in therapy, so some specific activities for which I’ve used this one are:
Pictionary/charades-the student draws or acts out an activity and/or setting in which Kate uses her device while others guess.
(You can ask anyone who knows me at work… I find a way to incorporate charades into EVERYTHING!)
RAAP Strategy-this interactive reading strategy stands for Read, Ask, Answer, Prompt. It uses aided language input to expand on children’s utterances within the context of book discussion. It’s wonderful for supporting partners, which is a huge part of our work! A more detailed description can be found here: http://praacticalaac.org/praactical/building-communication-skills-during-storybook-reading/
*This was especially good for one of my little ones who was struggling with wh-questions.
Evaluate it- in order to support students’ ability to express opinions, you can use rating scales (visuals) or describing words on their device to evaluate how they liked the book. Here is an example from practicalaac.org:
Can you give some suggestions for teachers when reading this book in the classroom?
The main purpose of this book is to be read to all children, not just those who use AAC. My hope for this book and others in the collection is to encourage discussion about communication differences and to support understanding and celebrate diversity. This book can be a tool to the teacher to understand how to support the student who uses AAC in the classroom, as well as how to facilitate effective communication between peers in the classroom. This can help students build the skills of empathy and compassion toward others who communicate in ways that are different than their own.
One specific suggestion would be to involve the student and family using AAC in the decision-making process. Ask if s/he would like to take part in reading and sharing the book and topic of AAC with the class. Perhaps there can be some demonstration of the device, and peers can try formulating a message (this is a wonderful way to support understanding of the time it takes). In some cases, the student may be too shy. In that case, singling the student out would not be a good idea, and making the book a part of a series on celebrating diversity may be a better approach. Either way, it is important to involve the child in the decision.
Tell me about your other books in the Something to Say series.
There are two other books in the Something to Say collection.
In Something to Say about my Speech, Macey is a spirited girl who loves adventure and taking the stage! She also has difficulty with speech clarity (articulation delay, apraxia, dysarthria…). Macey shares her experiences with communication as she enjoys her childhood in the same way her friends do.
Something to Say about Stuttering features Alex who plays soccer, rides his dirt bike, and helps with his little sister. He shares what it is like for him when he stutters, as well as ways to help make communication a little easier.
Each of the books is strength-focused and fun, as it was important that children would have strong character with whom they could relate. Embedded within the text are strategies established in the field (e.g., aided language input for AAC, avoiding interruptions for fluency), written in a child-friendly way. The books are written from the perspective of the child in order to encourage self-advocacy and model ways in which children can communicate with others about their strengths and differences.
To learn more about Eden and her products and services, click here.
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