Silver’s Inner Chatterbox Now Shines

Student Story
A student holding up an mounted iPad with screen displaying a TouchChat PageSet

Meet Silver, who is currently in grade 6 at Cedar Grove Elementary in the community of Gibsons, on the Sunshine Coast. Silver is a non-speaking student with many interests as well as a passion for learning and playing with her peers. Last year, Silver worked closely with her classroom teacher, Clea King, and her Educational Assistant, Mia Stracker. 

Since grade 1, Silver has had an iPad with the AAC app TouchChat, but for the first 4 years she showed very little interest. Trying to spark her interest and find the right formula, her team had changed Silver’s page set multiple times over the years. Early in grade 5, last year, the neglected device had a 3 x 4 grid of 12 buttons. 

Mia and Clea had noticed Silver’s wide range of interests from her pets to jewelry, from playing outside to artwork. Suspecting her previous page sets had been too limiting, Mia settled on a Word Power page set in TouchChat with more options – a 6 x 10 grid of 60 buttons. And that’s when Silver began to really look.

SET-BC’s training with Mia and Clea focused on how to customize those 60 buttons to directly connect to Silver’s interests, but also on the importance of modelling how to use those buttons.  Modelling is a vital step when asking a child to communicate through a device. Modelling means using the AAC system yourself to speak to the user, so that they can witness it being used in real situations. You will see in the accompanying video that both Mia and Clea are wearing their own iPads with TouchChat to model what they say in Silver’s presence.

So, Mia worked tirelessly at modelling just about everything – requests, praise, directions, questions, apologies… a wide range of what we all use communication for. Mia and Clea knew Silver had a lot to say. Her pointing, gesturing, tugging at their sleeve, and her bright, expressive eyes were a dead giveaway. But it was increasing the size of her page set and then their extensive modelling on how to use her AAC device that finally connected Silver to her own ability to speak through it. 

The technology has become a bridge between Silver and her classmates. She speaks independently to others about her many interests, participates in class activities, and shows her understanding by using TouchChat. Through her AAC device, Silver can now shine as the “little chatterbox” that she’s always been.