How Augmentative and Alternative Communication Changes Beth and Liz Moulam’s Lives

Beth Moulam spent time sharing her experiences at our latest Augmentative and Alternative Communications (AAC) course.

Key takeaways:

  • SPED understands the needs of people with special needs better than mainstream schools
  • Therapists should come prepared for sessions

Beth Moulam spent time sharing her experiences at our latest Augmentative and Alternative Communications (AAC) course.

Beth Moulam is a social policy student at York University, Toronto, Canada. Beth has been using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) all her life due to cerebral palsy. On her personal blog, she wrote: “Only a few people understand my speech well and I often have to give them prompts. With many people I use a high-tech communication aid to talk. I also communicate by eye pointing, facial expression, finger pointing, body language and spelling out words.”

On 25 June, Beth met up with more than 10 therapists 15,000 km away from home. She shared her AAC experiences with the group who attended a full-day AAC training facilitated by SPD’s Sarah Yong, Head of Clinical Services for Specialised Assistive Technology Centre and Mariam Mohd, Assistive Technology (AT) Specialist through Skype.

Liz and Beth Moulam shared their experiences through Skype.

Beth, accompanied by her mother, Liz Moulam, shared their experiences with the therapists, often with Liz translating some of Beth’s words. Otherwise, Beth uses a communication device for speech.

As Beth was in mainstream education before transferring to a SPED school, she was often asked the differences between the two. She explained that SPED school teachers were trained to understand what she was trying to say, which made it easier for her and helped her greatly in her educational journey. SPED schools were also more equipped to provide support in some areas as compared to those in a mainstream school, which often had to make special arrangements to accommodate students with disabilities.

On working with AAC professionals, Liz said: “Mostly, we have very good support. The best therapists are the ones who know that it is not just about the therapy. It is about life as well! Nobody can sit there, simply doing programmes the entire day.”

Liz also stressed the importance of therapists coming to the sessions prepared. A few new therapists had turned up with assumptions on what Beth needed. That would always upset her as Beth was already ahead of the therapists in terms of their assumption of her level of abilities.

“Due to my speech difficulties, it is good to work with people who look at the positives rather than focus on what I cannot do,” added Beth.

In the last one year, SPD has conducted two training sessions to more than 20 professionals supporting people with disabilities so that they have some basic skills and strategies on implementing AAC in their different settings.

“We hope to inspire and enable them to see how AAC can empower people who are minimally verbal,” said SPD’s speech therapist Deborah Yong, who also assisted in the session.

The participants of the course took a picture, commemorating the AAC course they went through together. The participants were from different organisations.

One of the participants, Laureen from Fei Yue’s Early Intervention said: “[The training session] has helped us to have a greater understanding about AT and to grasp the importance of patience when treating our clients who require AAC aid.”

To register your interest for the next AAC training or for more information on the course, please e-mail us.