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Tangible communication

House for sale. A sign to point to. Inside we have promotional leaflets to distribute and exclaim upon. When you can’t speak or write well, you communicate with what you have, signs, gestures and sounds.

Julian loves to know what’s going on. And act on useful information. YouTube, videos and television are his windows to the world. So is the front window. He was the first to spot the For Sale sign going up out the front of our house.

Julian likes to use pictures, photos and drawings to exchange information and share stories. It helps if those supporting him can write comments to go with the images. He has a communication book with Compic - computer generated pictographs including symbols for verbs (make, do, etc), adverbs (good, bad), and prepositions (to, at ) and conjunctions (for, and). In his book, he has photos of people important to him, including his support workers -of course – and notes about his likes and dislikes. It’s a good tool, but getting bulky to take everywhere he goes.

Nicole Wu, Julian’s speech therapist, has been encouraging us to practice using the communication book with Julian, modelling how to use it to extend his means of communication. She recognises, however, that with Julian’s interest in stuffing it with many flyers, notes, cards and other memorabilia, it is getting a bit big to lug around.

This is where Instagram comes into its own. I’ve just set up an account for Julian that his support workers, friends and family can follow. It’s perfect for displaying a gallery of pictures of what’s important to him along with occasional notes that I can post with each new image that I upload to it.

Others might also like to try using Instagram like this in supporting a person with communication challenges.

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