Overwhelmed. Lost. Intimidated. Stressed.
These are just a few emotions I felt at the start of my journey with Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Many students with unique communication needs made up a portion of my caseload. I immediately knew these students needed extra support to effectively and functionally communicate across all settings, but to be honest, I was overwhelmed with where to begin. As a new clinician, AAC was an area that was vast and scary for me, but I was not going to let intimidation win. These children deserved to be heard, and I was not going to let my anxiety prevent me from helping to give these children a voice.
"...AAC was an area that was vast and scary for me, but I was not going to let intimidation win."
My journey with Boardmaker began with Boardmaker v.6 and has continued with Boardmaker Online, which is what I primarily use now. This program has allowed me to quickly make picture cards for my students to use during various activities of the school day. With the ease of logging into my account, I can make, save, and print picture-based communication visuals from anywhere.
Along with the basics of making picture cards, the templates provided for various mid-tech communication systems have been extremely beneficial. By using these templates, I am able to quickly and easily make picture boards for students to use with his/her device to participate through responding and commenting during the school day.
A final favorite has been Core First Learning, offered through Boardmaker Online. By teaching core vocabulary, my students have been able to expand one word utterances into 2+ word phrases. I typically introduce a core word by reading the provided stories in Core First Learning. Because of the simplicity of the stories, my students are easily engaged and quickly begin imitating the core word being taught. Parents are given the handouts provided in Core First Learning to learn ways to easily teach and model the targeted core word at home and in community settings.
Boardmaker has become my sidekick for helping students with severe communication deficits. The feelings of being overwhelmed, lost, intimidated, and stressed have been replaced by feelings of encouragement, confidence, and joy. When I see the smiles on my students' faces when they are communicating using visual supports made through Boardmaker, I can’t help but smile right back.
"Boardmaker has become my sidekick for helping students with severe communication deficits."
Thanks to Boardmaker, so many students now have an opinion to give, a comment to make, and a question to ask in this big world filled with voices that so many of us often take for granted.