Thursday, April 7, 2016

What does Baking have to do with AAC?

I've discovered a love for baking. My pinterest page is filled with the most delicious looking cakes, breads, muffins and all sorts of dough filled goodness. I even made the investment and bought a kitchenaid stand mixer a few weeks ago. Now I can't stay out of the kitchen (or the gym for that matter...sigh). It has become a bit therapeutic for me as well. If I have a bad day, I bake. My neighbors and friends are quite happy with this new hobby.

My love has also been rekindled for AAC. Don't get me wrong I never stopped using it in my practice; there were just some periods when it all felt a bit overwhelming... However it's important to note as a therapist that when you stop having fun with AAC your clients will as well. So I started having fun with it again. My AAC goals moved away from being focused primarily on choosing specific language/ vocab targets, and became more about fitting those targets into clients' interests.
So we started going on treasure hunts, and having afternoon tea....and Baking...yes we started baking.

When I first introduced the concept of AAC to an older client about 3 years ago her response was quite a lackluster one. Actually it was more like BLEH! And to be honest I don't blame her. In her shoes I would have had that reaction too. It was boring, it was something new to learn, it wasn't motivating. All I was thinking of then was "Hey, I'm giving you a voice (sounds familiar?), you should want to use it, right?" Wrong! It wasn't working. We tried a few other things and well...bleh! Then one day I introduced her to pinterest on her iPad, and at that moment the heavens opened up, a light shone down, and I had opened the gates of technology. I followed her, she followed me and she became a "pinmaster"  (3.9k pins and counting) Believe it or not Pinterest is one of the greatest forms of communication. I got to learn so much about her interests, aspirations, skills, travels, through this medium. I taught her how to categorize her ideas and findings into boards, homework assignments were being completed, and magic happened. I saw a new motivation appear....I also saw a shared love for food!!

I tiptoed in very hesitantly over a few sessions with the "touchchat" app. Slowly introducing it to talk about some of our findings on pinterest, then expanding to other ideas. In this case it was received well. Then I said "let's use it to bake!" and her eyes lit up.

We spent the first week choosing the perfect recipe from pinterest. In this case the most mouthwatering blueberry cream cheese bread.

After which we worked on navigation of the app to talk about the ingredients and directions for the recipe, and made a shopping list for the family. It was easy to navigate through 1/2 teaspoons and 1/4 cups of ingredients using the app, and I also programmed a separate page called "baking actions", specific to baking activities.

The next session was baking day and the highlight of our therapy. I showed up wearing an apron with iPad in one hand and a whisk in the other, ready for some AAC baking action.
She took the lead as head baker and supervisor, using the device to give directions, and ensure accurate measurements (as well as to ensure I didn't mix up salt for sugar *hide face*). I mixed, beat, stirred, and poured away under the best instruction. 

There was also great fun in licking the batter from the bowl. Yumm!

Our hard work was definitely worth it, since her willingness to independently use the device to initiate and communicate was amazing, plus the finished product was on point :). 

So the answer to the title question is Love. Love is baking delicious goodies, while effectively using AAC for functional awesomeness! 


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  2. Love this idea and your proactive-ness!

  3. Very informative article. Looking forward to more posts in near future.speech pathologist near me


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