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Speech Therapy: The ABCs of AAC

What's in a Name?

Published January 21, 2015 1:37 PM by Kimberly Jasensky

It’s always exciting when someone gets a new communication device. It’s even more exciting when they have been waiting (because the old one broke).

Yesterday, Corey brought me his brand new device to set up. He looked at the student that is working with me and said, “I’ve named this one ‘Sky.’” Corey’s last communication device was named “Pluto.”

The very first experience I had with a user naming his device was a young man who was talking about using his device to text his mom when he was hanging out in the mall. He looked at me very seriously and asked, “What happens when Fred dies?” He and his mom laughed when they saw the look on my face; I had no clue that he was talking about his communication device.

Thinking about these wonderful users, made me wonder “What’s in a name?”

Well, if you think about it, it is a great idea to name your communication device. With these two examples, which happened without any prompting from me or their family, it was a natural occurrence. What did naming a device do for the user?

First, it gives the user an attachment to the device. This can be a valuable way to get ‘”buy-in” for device use and independent communication. This is something that belongs to only them and allows for independence through communication.

Second, it makes it easier for family and other stake holders to talk about (and encourage) device use. Giving a reminder like, “Why don’t you use Pluto to tell me about your field trip, so I can understand,” is much easier that talking about using your communication device.

Not all users are going to be able to name their device. Some may need assistance with this as well. Since I learned about Fred and Pluto, I have encouraged some families to help a new user to name the device. This has been a great way to get everyone involved in the transition from ineffective non-verbal communication, to more effective, independent functional communication.

Do you have any device users that have named their devices? What are some of the most unique names that you have heard? How did it impact device use? I would love to hear your thoughts.


RE Naming the AAC device.  After Shyler named hers "the big box of words", we showed our grandson some of her utube videos.  Fast forward...  When he got his second PRC device, he named his Vantage lite his "big green machine".  

He re-named it a few years later, due to his fascination with lions and their way of life.  He re-named it Lion 2 (He is Lion 1, Also known as Richard the Lion-hearted) (He LOVES that his  name really is Richard!)  I added, upon request, "antelope" to the meats, and just a few other lion related words elsewhere.

Having a name for it has helped spark exchanges when meeting new people.  

Now he is about to get the Accent 1000.  He is very excited about it.  Wonder if he will keep the name.  We will see.

Margret , NA - NA July 25, 2016 8:54 AM
Plano TX

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