In my aspirations to help as many people as I can I have created, with the assistance of a speech therapist I met during my presentations this year, a fun social group called iChat My Way. We are starting this group to support people, of all ages, with complex communication needs to meet others who use alternative ways to communicate (AAC) and their carers in our local area. The aim of this group is to socialise, practice using AAC in the community and learn from each other about using different AAC methods. But most of all making new friends and having fun.
We have just had our first meeting and although it was a small get together it was still very rewarding and a lot of fun. It was held at our local McDonalds who have been amazing in making their restaurant communication accessible. They have even learnt some Key Word Signs to use when we order and they have menu choice boards made up for us to enable people unable to speak to point and order what they want.
In the past I have always ordered what I thought my daughter wanted to eat or drink. She didn’t have the capacity until recently with her iPad Mini to order or make decisions for herself. I now know that I wasn’t always correct.
At the group on the weekend this was witnessed again. There was a young girl who attended and using her few words and the menu choice board she ordered herself a Happy Meal with a cheeseburger, apple slices and a strawberry shake. We all had a laugh when her mother said “I would never have guessed that’s what she would have ordered. Normally I order her nuggets and fries.” It shows us that as parents we don’t always get it right. But as a parent with a child with complex communication needs we do our best.
We all had a great day and loved ordering our own meals, sharing iPads, playing in the playground and using a number of different ways to communicate to the McDonalds staff. I think the McDonald’s staff enjoyed the day as much as we did.