Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Today’s post is the first in a series that aims to bring the personal AAC journeys of AAC users to the spotlight. For many caregivers taking on the overwhelming task of implementing AAC for a loved one, it can be helpful to see the path that others have traveled and to connect with people who know at least a little about what it feels like to walk in their shoes. Tough journeys also call for inspiration, and I hope these short encounters with amazing individuals will bring a bit of each of these to you.
Sabrina is a long-time friend of mine and one of the most inspirational and kind people that I know. I met Sabrina as a graduate student and we quickly developed a strong friendship that is going 15 years strong. As she’s grown and reached many milestones in her life-graduating high school and college, completing an internship for clerical skills, and sharing her story in many venues across her local community and on social media-it has become clear that she has a joy for life, a love for people, and a compassionate heart to advocate for individuals with special communication needs. Sabrina inspires many, and is inspired by many who have supported her on her journey. She shared with me that a powerful experience in her life most recently has been meeting her friend and mentor Sam and participating in The Friendship Journey virtually during the COVID pandemic. The Friendship Journey is a wonderful organization that supports opportunities for people of all abilities to develop connections and friendships. Sabrina just raved about the awesome friendships and exciting things she’s learned being a part of this unique experience.
I sat down early last month to chat a bit more with Sabrina about her life and her own journey with AAC. Sabrina started using AAC when she was in preschool and has been using it ever since. She said it was pretty easy to learn AAC, likely because she has been surrounded by a team of dedicated partners, including her mother, Cheryl, who is her biggest advocate. Sabrina told me that she values her AAC device because it helps her express herself in every way. She shared “it feels good to communicate with AAC because I can make myself understood.” She admits that this doesn’t come without some frustrations, such as low battery life, trouble with her device’s pronunciation, and others having difficulty understanding her on the phone. Despite these frustrations, Sabrina shared that AAC is incredibly powerful for her. She stated “…without my [AAC], I cannot talk. My [device] helps me achieve [communication] by speaking my thoughts and ideas for me”. Sabrina has touched and taught many in her young life so far, demonstrating resilience, kindness, and genuine care for others. She shared a bit of advice for parents on their own journey to help their child learn to communicate with AAC: “Be p patient and work along with your child and help him learn.” What about professionals supporting individuals who use AAC? Sabrina echoes the words of many in the AAC community, sharing her advice that all teachers need to take a course in AAC and that speech therapists need to learn more about AAC. She ended our interview with one last piece of advice and a touching personal story. What does she want us all to know? “I want people to know that you can’t take AAC away”.
Hear Sabrina’s story and her final words of wisdom in the short interview clip below.
Learn more about The Friendship Journey and how to support their incredible work here.
Want to share your AAC journey? Reach out to us here in comments, via email, or at our social media channels.