Over his icy cold Christmas break, Mateo had a lot of time to ponder things. One day, he came downstairs and asked to talk to me about something that’s been on his mind. He told me he’d like to talk to people about what it’s like for him to use an AAC device as his voice. When I asked him to tell me a little about what he had in mind, he said he’d like to speak at a conference on the subject. Whoa, I thought! Don’t get me wrong. That’s a FANTASTIC idea for down the road. However, I suggested we need to take one small step at a time. I asked him to think a little more about what he’d like to share and then we’d figure out the right platform for him.
Again, he reiterated that he wants people to know what it’s like for him to use AAC every day as his voice. He wants “normal” people — particularly children — to better understand his perspective. He also wants to encourage younger, less experienced AAC communicators.
Now, at this point, I want to share that Mateo is starting to step up as a mentor to younger children who are just beginning their AAC journeys. He recently spent some time visiting with a young boy who’d had his device for a few months. Mateo visited this boy’s classroom and talked with him about some of their mutual interests. Mateo also spoke with the student’s teacher and speech-language pathologist about how he learned to use his device over time. This mama was very proud. For many, many years, Mateo has looked up to other brilliant young people as they transitioned from novice communicators to confident, wickedly funny adults tackling new adventures in college or at work. Now, Mateo is in a position where he can encourage and support children who are going through ups and downs of their own. I think that’s amazing.
After some brainstorming, Mateo said he’d like to begin sharing some videos discussing issues related to AAC and his experiences. He decided on his first topic and, to help him organize his thoughts, he asked me to interview him so he’d hit on the points he wanted to address. We just posted our first project today. He’s pretty excited about it. We hope you enjoy!
[Maybe it’s time for him to start his own blog.]