You Matter

You Matter is a set of two training courses that are designed to support and empower those around children who are using aided communication (Augmentative and Alternative Communication).

 “A brilliant course! Should be available to all parents, carers and teaching assistants involved with AAC”
Course Participant

You Matter Family Edition is a two day (or eight session) course that brings together families and professionals on an equal footing in order to identify practical and positive ways forward to meet children’s aided communication needs.

You Matter Education Edition is a one day course that is designed to be delivered to education staff who work with children who use aided communication.

The You Matter courses are designed to be delivered by professionals that are experienced in the field. The course packs contain everything needed to run a successful course, from the course Powerpoint which is full of video examples, detailed notes on delivery, to the handouts.

The courses were developed as a direct result of the authors’ concerns that there appeared to be insufficient aided communication support offered. Children using aided communication experience very specific needs, and those supporting them often appear isolated.

You Matter courses are not about the many forms of aided communication. Instead, the courses focus purely on the underlying concept of communicating through aided communication, and on the importance of those surrounding the child. The most important message conveyed is that You Matter.

What’s in the course?

You Matter is divided into eight short sessions to be run flexibly, for example, over two full days or four morning, afternoon or evening sessions.

Session One

The first session aims to introduce participants, draw out their hopes and concerns, recognise the pressures they may be under and explore their expectations of the course. Overall aims for the course will be agreed during this session, matching what the participants want to gain with the information provided within the course content.

Sessions Two and Three

These sessions look at facilitating communication through aided systems. This is done by considering:

  • What is meant by communication
  • The five stages of communication development using aided systems
  • How to select vocabulary at the right level for a child
  • How participants’ communication affects the child’s progress
  • How participants’ communication will change as the child gains skills.

After the first three sessions, participants can be offered the opportunity to be videoed at home or in school with their child. The aim is to help participants to review their own style of interaction as well as express privately any concerns they may have about their child using aided communication.

Session Four

Session Four reviews the video experience and looks at involving others in the child’s communication system. It includes:

  • The difficulties faced by children using aided communication when learning to communicate through their system.
  • The different types of communication we all use.
  • How the participants’ role changes as the child gains skill.

Sessions Five, Six and Seven

These sessions bring in feedback from the video sessions, looking at where perceived communication problems lie, and address areas the participants choose to focus on. Session Seven finishes by discovering participants’ longer term aims for their child’s communication and looks at setting achievable goals for the future.

Session Eight

The final session is an additional half day which looks at each child’s personal aided communication system. Participants need to bring in their child’s system and either the appropriate communication aid supplier or someone who is familiar with the different systems needs to be available. It’s a session for participants to gain confidence with the programming of the systems, and/or the creation of pages or other low tech materials. A variety of activities are included during the course for participants to investigate some of the issues through working together in small groups.

About the Authors

Amanda Bousaki _(Central and North West London (CNWL) Foundation Trust – Milton Keynes)

Amanda is the Head of Paediatrics and Adult Learning Disability in Milton Keynes CHS. She is an experienced speech and language therapist who has worked within the field of AAC for the over fifteen years.

Deborah Pugh (Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust)

Deborah is a specialist speech and language therapist and has worked for many years with children with complex communication difficulties. She is a member of the Northamptonshire AAC Team.

Clare Latham

Clare is a retired specialist speech and language therapist. She is a well-known author in the field of AAC, and worked extensively in the field of paediatric learning disability.

The courses have been developed in collaboration with the Ace Centre

How the course was developed

The course is the outcome of the You Matter project which was carried out as part of the Becta Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) Innovative Projects funding stream.

The project aimed to highlight the importance of providing training for parents and closely-involved professionals in supporting a child using aided communication. There were two very different models of training courses, each offering contrasting perspectives on how parent-directed training could be successfully delivered.

As a result, the project has developed a range of ideas for putting training into practice leading to the same desired outcomes for parents, professionals and ultimately the child. During the training, all those taking part were asked to provide extensive feedback to inform this structure of the course. In addition, opportunities for in-depth discussion were provided during workshops which followed the delivery of the courses. These workshops included managers of services as well several lead/highly specialist speech and language therapists who had been delivering.

Costs

Price:  Education Edition: £105 plus P&P (VAT is payable), Family Edition: £155 plus P&P

The price quoted is for the full You Matter bundle, including:

  • 1 x Tutor Guide & resource pack, plus Tutor DVD & CD
  • 10 x Your Guide & resource packs for participants

Additional packs for participants can also be purchased separately:

  • 1 x Your Guide & resource pack for participants – £15 plus P&P (VAT is payable)
  • 5 x Your Guide & resource packs for participants  – £62.50 plus P&P (VAT is payable)
  • 10 x Your Guide & resource packs for participants – £100 plus P&P (VAT is payable)