When I go out and socialize, people always tend to look at me because of my wheelchair and not always know how to communicate with me because of my communication aid. It’s my support workers who empower me to be able to walk into a room with people that I don’t know and still feel confident. My support workers help me to be understood and let people know that I can communicate effectively with the assistance of an iPad.
I used to hate going out but when the right support worker showed up and took me out and was able to assist me with feeling empowered, having a voice and building up my confidence, I could actually start to enjoy it.
People with communication disabilities require people to sit with us and be patient in understanding us. To also be patient when I use my communication aids. My support workers empower me with the confidence to go out into the community and socialize with people I don’t know.
It’s about having a voice and feeling like I have the right to say no as well. Feeling like I can ask for help when I need to.
As a person with a communication disability, it’s important for my support workers to help build up my confidence and to be strong to know that I have the same rights, and can live my life to the fullest despite my disability. It’s crucial for people with communication disabilities to have mentors that challenge the very idea of a disability.
We need mentoring to break down these barriers and to train people on how to effectively communicate.
While the communication aid is an incredibly helpful tool, we also require mentoring on feeling empowered and confident enough to communicate as well. It’s a two-part job and there needs to be more research on how we can effectively support people with communication disabilities in confidently communicating with others.
One of my mentors was my speech therapist who provided me with the tools and skills to be able to use my communication device effectively. I believe it would be great to see a program where older children or young adults with communication needs mentor younger children on how to effectively use their communication device. I think that the right speech therapist should provide the individual with practice of speech or sign language. It’s up to the speech therapist and occupational therapist to provide the child with the skills to meet their communication needs. This includes providing information on the different communication aids that will match the person’s needs. Its crucial for speech therapists to mentor those with communication devices on how to use them effectively, particularly in primary schools.
A mentor provides knowledge, support, and guidance so we can grow in our personal lives. I personally have been lucky to have a supportive family and my parents as mentors. My mother taught me how to be independent and rely on myself to achieve what I wanted in life. My father taught me that a disability didn’t need to hold me back: that it didn’t matter that I was disabled, I could still achieve what I wanted in life. I believe it’s incredibly important people with communication disabilities have mentors who encourage them to lift their confidence and engage with others in society so that they can live a full life.
Disabilities are part of everyday society and aresomething that is more normal than many realize. It’s for this reason I believe those with communication disabilities need mentors to help them reach their fullest potential.