By Brad Boardman, MAC Executive Director

Communication is one of the cornerstones of Morgan Autism Center programming and is key in helping many of our students with behavioral challenges. The transformative power of communication is demonstrated by a quote from a letter of recommendation written to the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CSHA). In it, parents Brad and Paola Davenport write: “Although Cameron still cannot speak, he can communicate and he can be heard. Morgan Autism Center gave Cameron his voice. We cannot think of a better qualification than this to win The Program of the Year Award. …”

The letter goes on to read, “We witnessed first-hand, in and out of the classroom, our child transform from a frustrated boy to a calm and happy child who felt heard. Within weeks, Cameron was communicating complete sentences through his device and figuring out how to find words in the device faster than any of the adults working with him.”

On March 28, through a process of nomination, site visits and letters like the Davenports’, CSHA recognized Morgan Autism Center as its Program of the Year at their state convention. This is an extremely prestigious award and MAC is truly proud to be honored by this amazing organization of professionals.

MAC serves many individuals who are nonverbal or have very limited use of verbal language. For these individuals, we are living in an exciting time, as new technology-based communication tools are coming on the market and are constantly evolving toward ease of use. At MAC, we work very hard to create an environment where student communication is expected and valued.

However it is no simple task to implement these communication solutions! Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) and our Alternative Augmentative Communication consultant must stay in tune with new developments and learn to program and use a variety of devices to customize the solution for each individual. SLPs and teachers must work together with staff to make sure communication is happening across the child’s school day, not only during speech. Families must also be trained on the devices and, sometimes, SLPs help families navigate funding through insurance.

While there is no doubt that current technology is amazing, obviously there is so much more to making genuine communicative leaps. In order for any solution to work, there must be a culture that embraces and moves forward with the solution. Parents, staff, teachers, SLPs, friends and others must embrace the possibilities and seize every available communication opportunity. There must be perseverance, passion and — of course — patience. MAC is proud to be a part of our students’ learning environment.