A Quick Guide to Overcoming AAC Challenges During the Holidays

A picture of the Spoken app with various saved phrases relating to the holidays

The holiday season is a time filled with family gatherings and festive events. While this is a period of joy and celebration for many, the amount of social interactions that take place during these holiday events can easily become overwhelming for individuals using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). This is especially true for those who are relatively new to using AAC; the thought of engaging in numerous conversations, trying to be heard in crowded rooms, and simply being seen as different can be daunting.

However, it’s important to remember that with the right strategies and mindset, the holiday season can be a joyful and inclusive time for AAC users as well. The following tips are designed to help navigate these social settings more comfortably, ensuring that the festive season is enjoyable and accessible for everyone. Let’s dive into some practical advice that can make a significant difference in the holiday experience for those using AAC.

Practice Conversations

If you’re new to AAC, practice having conversations with family or friends using your AAC system. This will not only boost your confidence once the festivities begin, but also help others become more comfortable and familiar with your mode of communication.

Prepare Useful Phrases

Before attending a gathering, program your AAC device or app with phrases commonly used in holiday conversations. This might include greetings, responses to common questions, and festive expressions. This preparation can save time and reduce stress during conversations. If you’re a Spoken user, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of Saved Phrases!

A picture of the Spoken app with various saved phrases relating to the holidays.
Spoken’s Saved Phrases feature can be a real time saver.

Educate Your Circle and Encourage Questions

Take the opportunity the holidays present to educate your friends and family about AAC. A brief explanation of how your AAC system works can go a long way in making everyone more understanding and supportive. You should also invite others to ask questions about your AAC device or app, as they might be hesitant to ask otherwise. Being open to questions will help demystify your method of communication for others.

Seek Supportive Companions

Identify a family member or friend at the event who understands your communication needs and can assist you in conversations. This person can help facilitate your involvement in group discussions and ensure you’re not left out.

Take Breaks When Needed and Enjoy Non-Verbal Activities

Social gatherings can be overwhelming, especially for AAC users who may require more time and effort to communicate. Don’t hesitate to take short breaks to avoid fatigue. During these breaks, you can also engage in holiday activities that don’t require speaking, like decorating, cooking, or crafting. These activities offer a way to participate and bond with others without the pressure of conversation.

Be Patient with Yourself and Celebrate Progress

Embrace every conversation as a valuable learning experience. It’s important to remember that communication is a skill that improves over time, especially when using AAC. Being patient with yourself is key as you navigate these new experiences. Understand that it’s perfectly normal to encounter challenges and even occasional frustrations. These moments are not setbacks but rather opportunities for growth and learning.

It’s also helpful to acknowledge your progress, no matter how small it may seem. Celebrate the milestones, like initiating a conversation, expressing a complex idea, or simply being part of a group discussion. Each of these moments is a testament to your perseverance and development.

Take Advantage of Free Spoken Premium

To support AAC users during this festive time, we’re offering free access to Spoken Premium for the holiday season. This is an excellent chance to explore advanced features that can enhance your AAC experience.

By implementing the strategies in this guide and taking advantage of the Spoken Premium offer, you can navigate the holiday season with greater ease and enjoyment as an AAC user, making the most of this festive time of year.

About Spoken

Spoken is an app that helps people with aphasia, nonverbal autism, and other speech and language disorders.