Siblings are our first friends, and at times, our closest friends. Researchers have found that siblings heavily influence each other and the type of person they eventually grow into. And for children with special needs, siblings have an especially important role to play in communication intervention.
Involving siblings is a great way to enable children with specialized needs to experience a dynamic and supportive environment. As they build their communication, it helps the siblings to build a deeper relationship with family members. Many a time siblings of children with special needs end up feeling left out because of all the focus and energy being given to the latter. This manner of involving them can be one of the ways to enable them to overcome that feeling.
Here are some tried and tested ways by which siblings can engage by using AAC –
Collecting Frequently-used Messages:
Ask the sibling to help you brainstorm messages that their brother or sister might want or need to communicate. This can make your work simpler as siblings are closer in age and know things about each other that adults might miss!
Recording Voice Outputs:
Recording voice messages is a fun way to engage your children. Listening to a familiar voice, makes your child want to use the AAC device more. When a sibling records a message using AAC, it develops compassion and a sense of belonging in your children.
Guiding the Siblings:
While most siblings might not love being bossed around, they can engage in games that involves giving directions. Such games teach critical thinking and encourage self-discovery. And games are great ways of coming together and having fun! By using a sequence of messages on their device that you can load beforehand, the children can take turns to play an inclusive version of games like “Simon Says” and so on. This will give the child a sense of control while letting the siblings be actively involved in the game.
You can get the help of your child to record a sequence of messages and add relevant images of a bedtime story. Later, the child can “read” the story to their sibling by selecting the pictures in a sequential manner.
Just like the bedtime stories, you can record some of your child’s (who uses the AAC device) favorite lullabies on the AAC device. During bedtime, the sibling can select a lullaby and sing along as the device sings the song. This is a great way to improve the bonding between the siblings.
With little preparation and support from your end, you will be amazed how incredibly passionate siblings are about helping their brother or sister to communicate more effectively. These activities will also help bring out the caregiving qualities of your children. AAC and AT are very helpful tools for increasing children’s opportunities to engage meaningfully with their brothers and sisters. And Avaz is one such tool striving towards Making Every Voice Heard!
Do share other methods you use in communication intervention getting the siblings involved.