Nothing builds communication skills and confidence more than connecting with others and building relationships. It is important to all of us that we find friends with whom we share some common ground and experiences with. I had the pleasure of joining Mike Hipple and his mother, Sue, for an AAC Fireside Chat last night and one theme of many heart warming and eye-opening themes was the importance of community for people who use AAC and their families. You can hear what Mike and Sue have to say about the impacts of community on their AAC Journey by watching or listening to the full chat at the link above. This ASHA Leader article also outlines the positive impacts of summer camp experiences for AAC users and their families.
Children and young adults learning to communicate with AAC may find it difficult to find other AAC users in their schools or local communities with which to connect. They may not, in turn, experience the benefits of connecting with a peer who communicates as they do or learning from the experiences of a more seasoned AAC mentor. In this first post in the Building an AAC Village series, I hope to spotlight some resources for communicators and families to connect onsite or online with other AAC users and families through camps and hangouts. In this post, given the current COVID situation, I've chosen to spotlight virtual camps and hangouts that anyone can attend, regardless of where they live. But, I encourage you to check out our online AAC Camps & Hangouts Directory to explore camps and social groups running in person this year or in future years, and to submit your favorite camp or hangout resource that we've missed.
This non-profit organization was founded by the mother of an AAC user. ImpAACt Voices' hangouts are a virtual venue where Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) users meet to cultivate relationships by socializing with their peers of all abilities, ages 10 and older. Hangouts are led by AAC users and rooted in compassion, belonging, and community. They are a fun way to foster connections, have lively discussions, join in activities, and most importantly, enjoy yourself. Hangouts are every second Tuesday of the month from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST.
Camp Communicare was founded by the managing partners of Communicare LLC, an AAC practice in Massachusetts. They offer onsite and virtual camps in the summer for children who use AAC, with versatile options for participation. These camp opportunities are appropriate for young children through school age, perhaps older depending on interests and stage.
This camp based in Canada (Alberta) has switched to virtual delivery during COVID. AAC Camp Alberta is a weekend family camp for children aged 6 - 19 years who use speech generating communication devices and their families to enjoy fun camp activities while they practice social communication. Virtual AAC Camp activities include fun games, music & movement, arts & crafts, and more, all designed to encourage communication and interaction. There are also special sessions for siblings to connect with each other and learn more about AAC. Parent sessions will include a mix of presentations by AAC experts and opportunities for Q & A and networking.
Although not specifically focused on AAC, this social hangout opportunity has a variety of virtual activities for people of all abilities to connect and build friendships. Camp Wings of Friendship is a FREE virtual summer camp for teens and adults with disabilities co-developed and led by The Friendship Journey and Dylan’s Wings of Change. The hangouts involve a variety of activities and themes.
AACcessible Camps & Hangouts Directory
Looking for something local or in person? Know of an opportunity we missed? You can check our online resource for camps in your state and also submit a camp or social hangout we missed through this link.