I had the amazing opportunity of volunteering at Camp ImpAACt this summer and it was AWESOME! I am a Speech-Language Pathologist in Austin, TX and I am very passionate about Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). I wanted to spend my summer volunteering at a summer camp dedicated to AAC and I was thrilled when the Ellis asked me to be a group leader.
We started the week with a training on AAC and Aided Language Input by Vicki Clarke. The group leaders and one-on-one volunteers practiced using high and low tech communication devices to get to know each other. It was wonderful to learn more about AAC and to further understand how our campers communicate.
The theme for the week was S.T.E.A.M. into summer- science, technology, engineering, art and math activities for all levels of communicators. The campers and their one-on-one volunteers enjoyed activities such as making rain clouds, constellation matching, building molecules, and making lava lamps. Along with the STEAM activities, the campers had sessions with music, speech, physical and occupational therapist throughout the week.
Over the week, I learned so much more about AAC and how to facilitate communication during various camp activities. Partner modeling is so important when learning to use AAC for adults and children. At Camp ImpAACt, each camper was provided with a communication partner who modeled language by pointing to symbols on their camper’s AAC system while simultaneously talking. The campers learned a variety of communicative functions such as requesting, greeting, commenting, naming, expressing feelings and answering questions during various activities. Watching my campers access their devices to communicate with peers and their one-on-one volunteers was an SLP’s dream!
Camp ImpAACt is so special because it provides each child with the opportunity to fully participate in all camp activities adapted for AAC users. All of my campers thrived during Camp ImpAACt with the help of their volunteers and various specialist. The campers were able to communicate with peers and volunteers using the same mode of communication they use. I learned so much at Camp ImpAACt and I am so thankful I was provided the opportunity to volunteer and further my knowledge in the area of AAC!!
-Alyssa Jacobs, SLP