Close Server: KOPWWW05 | Not logged in

Welcome to Health Care POV | sign in | join
Speech in the Schools

Advocates for Acceptance

Published March 13, 2015 9:57 AM by Teresa Roberts

In our practice we recognize differing communication and learning abilities. As clinicians, we work to increase our clients’ access to social opportunities and interactions. We understand that all people have a unique way of expressing their thoughts and ideas.

Within the nature of the human condition, skills vary across domains, and throughout an individual’s lifetime and circumstances.

In Cynthia Lord’s Newbery Honor Book, “Rules”, a young girl describes her life with her brother with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Although this book is acclaimed for the narrator’s perspective of having a sibling with ASD, a second plot exists within the story of the girl’s emerging friendship with another child who uses Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Peer pressure affects this relationship and the author highlights the courage it takes to advocate for acceptance.

Many of us may not have a personal sense of having a socially perceived disability, or having a relative or close friend with a socially perceived disability. We may benefit from increasing our own awareness:

- Read books and articles which share the perspectives of both individuals with communication challenges and their family and friends.

- Watch films which feature the feelings and events which may reflect individuals with differing abilities, their loved ones, and roles in society.

- Attend community events sponsored by agencies which support individuals with disabilities.

- Talk with clients and their families about their personal experiences.

- Seek out simulation activities, such as learning differences simulations, in which you are placed in situations that mirror experiences (check your local dyslexia association, other non-profit agencies for disability services, and

Awareness is a fundamental step to increase understanding of the privileges that exist within a culture that sorts individuals by ability, and empowers us to advocate.

- Display books about individuals with disabilities in your office and work space.

- Share children’s books about acceptance and understanding with your clients and their families.

- Track current terminology to describe different conditions or states-of-being (e.g., person-first language, “contemporary” versus “archaic” descriptors, etc.).

- Adopt the new terms (times change and words change their meanings).

- Recognize that wording mistakes are common (wrong words, saying something inappropriate, etc.) and that we have the power to correct ourselves.

- Focus on the positive intent of each communicative interaction.

- Politely and subtly re-state and re-frame another person’s use of terminology, if they are not using appropriate terms, to model respectful language.

- Offer to lead a lesson or training on differing abilities with staff, colleagues, and students.

- Understand the pervasive effects of societal collective forces for conformity to a pre-established “normative” set of skills.

Continue to question your own behavior and how you confront bias within your own life.

As clinicians, our daily work is founded on accepting people and partnering with them to address communication goals. We support them when we advocate for a broader understanding of abilities, and we increase everyone’s social opportunities.


leave a comment

To prevent comment spam, please type the code you see below into the code field before submitting your comment. If you cannot read the numbers in the image, reload the page to generate a new one.

Enter the security code below:


About this Blog

    Speech in the Schools
    Occupation: School-based speech-language pathologists
    Setting: Traditional and specialized K-12 classrooms
  • About Blog and Author

Keep Me Updated