Easter Seals Helps Children with Disabilities – You can too!

With 3 days to go till we do our rappel down One London Place to raise money for Easter Seals, we are falling a little behind on our required goal to participate.

Take a look at the Drop Zone website for more information about all the different drops that have happened and yet to happen!

You can take a look at some photos of previous Drop Zones!  Some amazing photos!


That’s ME on the right last year coming down the building :)

Please support Easter Seals and help kids with physical disabilities succeed!

Everyday people are getting out of their comfort zones for Easter Seals kids!

The 3rd Annual Easter Seals Drop Zone London will take place Thursday, September 12, 2013 challenging participants to raise a minimum of $1,500 in pledges in order to rappel down the 26-storey building at One London Place, 255 Queens Ave. Everyday people will become “Superheroes” for a day by raising much needed funds for kids with physical disabilities, and challenging themselves in an exciting event that is both safe and fun!

Please support Easter Seals and help kids with physical disabilities succeed!

Having always appreciated and been grateful for Easter Seals and their support for the many things my son Patrick has and uses.

We have built a team this year and want to return the favour so to speak and do our best to raise the minimum $1500/pp (and more if possible) and do our part in raising money for this amazing organization!

This will be my 2nd time doing this, and a first for Mark & Dave on our team, but being able to support something that does so much for so many other children/families, it will be our honour to participate!

Please help us reach the minimum donation goal of $1500/pp to be able to participate in this wonderful event and opportunity to give back!

Thank you so much for helping us be able to participate and give back to something so great!

Here is the link to pledge online.  Ask/Share with your friends, family, bosses & co-workers!  We need your help!!

Thank you so much!!

How did you start your day? (updated)

First video blog! :) They will get better I promise! :)

London Drop Zone 2012Click the ^above^ picture to watch this blog post!

Have you ever thought about what exactly you do in a day?

Have you ever thought about how easy your life is?   Easy you say? My life easy?

Take a moment and think about what you did this morning when you got up and started your day.

You got yourself out of bed – you went to the washroom – you brushed your teeth – you had a shower – you got dressed – you made coffee/tea – maybe you had time to read the paper or check emails before jumping into your car and heading to work, the gym, shopping or where ever.

Does any of this sound familiar at all? I’m positive some of it applies to many.

Now…imagine this…

You’re lying in bed awake, ready to get up.  But wait…you can’t!  You have to wait for someone to come help you get out of bed.

Perhaps you’d call out to someone to come help you…but wait…you’re not able to speak.  Maybe you use an augmentative communication device to speak for you, you might be able to use it to help you get someone.

Now…someone has arrived to help you get up.  Maybe they even need to help you get dressed.  Perhaps you need help using the washroom.  If you need help for these things, you’re going to need help in the shower as well, right?

What if you couldn’t eat anymore?  What if you could, but it wasn’t recommended you do, due to health risks it would cause if you did.  Imagine being fed through a tube in your nose or your stomach.  Not being able to taste food anymore!

Those a just a few thoughts for you to think about at the moment.  Stop and really think about it.  What if that was you?  How would you feel?

Now let’s see, based on the above questions, let’s surmise that you aren’t able to walk, so you would likely be in a wheelchair.  (Let’s make a little side note here that there are many types of disabilities and not all of them require use of a wheelchair or other assistive devices).  Let’s also assume that because you can’t eat orally, you have a g-tube with which you get your nutrition.

Did you walk to your car or to work or the gym today?   There are literally thousands of people who weren’t able to.  Have you ever thought about getting around in a wheelchair?   Think about some of the places you go and take a visual as to how accessible they are?  Are there ramps?  Automatic buttons for the doors?  That are in reach?  Are the doorways wide enough for your wheelchair?  Are the things you use everyday within reach for you?

Seems like a lot to think about so far doesn’t it?

On the other side of the coin so to speak, what if you were the one who was helping that person everyday?   Circumstances are different for everyone and every situation it’s true, but suppose you had to get someone else ready to for their day before you could get started with yours.  Oh wait, this is how you start your day.

What if you were the parent and this was your child?  There are thousands of families that do this everyday!  This is their life!

How would you cope/handle things?  Do you think you could?   Without complaining?

Imagine all the things you will have had to learn and the all the things you’ll continue to learn.  All the Doctors, therapists, nurses, teachers, suppliers of equipment and things your child needs.  All these people remember are multiples!! In other words, there are a number of doctors/specialists, there could be anywhere from 1-5 therapists, multiple nurses and teachers and a limited number of suppliers for your equipment and supplies needed.

Think about work.  Is your boss wonderful and patient enough to let you answer those calls from the school where you might be needed?  How about all the doctor’s appointments and tests/procedures your child may have?  What about the hospital stays?  Staying 24/7 at the hospital with your child because no one knows your child like you do!  No one there would understand your child’s communication either.  Who is the best advocate for your child?  YOU!!

watch the video for the rest….

Here is the link for Easter Seals Drop Zone 2013 :)


Thank you so much!!

The Funding Process – What you should know!

Technically, I should have started writing about this last summer when I first started doing this.  It’s been a year now, and with all I have learned, especially the past few months, I felt this should be shared; so anyone else going through the same processes could possibly have that extra information before-hand and know what will BE expected and what TO expect.

I am speaking about getting an accessible vehicle and going through the processes of applying for the grants that are available to help.  Who would have thought this would take so much and give you stress?  This is supposed to help make things easier, isn’t it?

I am in the middle of all this, so to speak.  I have approvals from 2 of the 3 main grants offered.  What I have learned in, more so in the past month, is unreal!  I thank a couple of gentlemen, Renaud from Motion Specialties and Glen from Goldline Mobility and Conversions, for being so great and forth-coming with information about these processes, that no one else seems to tell you.  I’ve learned a lot from these guys in the past month or so.  Thank you!

Let me begin by giving the top 3 main grants available that one can apply to for an accessible vehicle.

Easter Seals – up to a maximum $3000 – strictly for modification.  Also note, individuals are only entitled to $3000 a year through Easter Seals to cover whatever needs/equipment there might be.  If anything totals more than that maximum, other funding sources will need to be looked at.

President’s Choice Children’s Charity – up to a maximum of $20,000 – PC is a little more lenient in that once modifications are paid for, any remaining of that can be put towards the purchase of the vehicle.

Let me interject a very important point here before I carry on:  Modifications come FIRST!!

March of Dimes – up to a maximum of $15,000 – again, strictly for modifications.  (March of Dimes has the HVMP – Home/Vehicle Modification Program.  The amounts are the same for both, $15,000 for Home modifications and $15,000 for Vehicle modifications)

To apply for any of these, you will be asked if you have applied to any other funding that is available to you.  If you haven’t, you must, for your application to be considered.

Follow along as I update you and take you through this process.  I will be adding what has happened thus far and what I’ve learned and continue to be learning about this process.  It’s a lot I must say and much I’m sure many aren’t aware of!

Stay tuned….

Persons with disabilities play sports too!

The other day while at the Orthotics office with my son, I noticed and grabbed a magazine called Play2Podium.  It states it’s a magazine for special needs families.  This was a free sample copy of the Winter 2011 edition.

While going through it I found some great information on sports for people with disabilities to participate in.  I did some more looking and found some more sites!  I’ve bookmarked all the ones I have found so far into one folder and will certainly keep them handy when I hear of others looking for something to get involved in.

I wanted to share them with you.  Some will fall into the winter sports and as you know, winter will be here soon enough! ;)

Canadian Amputee Sports Associationhttp://canadianamputeesports.ca/index.html

Canadian Blind Sportshttp://canadianblindsports.ca/eng/index.htm

Canada Para-Alpine Ski Teamhttp://canski.org/para-alpine-ski-team

The Canadian Cerebral Palsy Sports Associationhttp://ccpsa.ca/en/default.aspx

Canadian Electric Wheelchair Hockey Associationhttp://cewha.ca/

Canadian Wheelchair Sports Associationhttp://www.cwsa.ca/en/site/

Canadian Association for Disabled Skiinghttp://disabledskiing.ca/

Ontario Sledge Hockey Associationhttp://ontariosledge.com/

ParaSport Ontariohttp://www.parasportontario.ca/Default.aspx

Wheelchair Basketball Canadahttp://www.wheelchairbasketball.ca/en/homePage.aspx

ParaEquestrian Canadahttp://www.equinecanada.ca/para-equestrian/

Ontario Blind Sports Associationhttp://blindsports.on.ca/

Wheelchair Tennishttp://www.tenniscanada.com/tennis_canada/Pub/DisplayPage.aspx?enc=WqmHTIXb3hZBDLgekBXg/g16dCnUPZfiIR142ql1ulNxfx5r0F1EFukdEywK7teN7x7gN9vSqE+iOWSfJQywCw==

Special Olympics Canadahttp://www.specialolympics.ca/

Special Olympics Ontariohttp://www.specialolympicsontario.com/

Special Olympic Sports:

Winter Sports

  • Alpine Skiing
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Curling
  • Figure Skating
  • Floor Hockey
  • Snowshoeing
  • Speed Skating

Summer Sports

  • Aquatics
  • Athletics (Track & Field)
  • Bowling (5 & 10 Pin)
  • Power-lifting
  • Rhythmic Gymnastics
  • Soccer
  • Softball

Canadian Wheelchair Curling Instruction Videoshttp://www.curling.ca/start-curling/wheelchair-curling-instruction/

See anything of interest to you or a family member?  Check it out further by visiting their website.  So much is gained by participating!

I will add more as I come across them, but I think we’ve got a good start here! :)

Looking to volunteer?  Each of these sports I’m sure welcome volunteers! :) Contact the sites for more information on volunteering and/or if you have questions about the sport.

Till next time…

Get involved and play hard! :)

Disability Travel Card

“Easter Seals Canada and its members and/or affiliates are authorized to approve reduced fare tickets allowing persons with permanent disabilities to travel with an attendant* on the lines of Motor Coach Companies that participate in the reduced fare plan, and Via Rail.”

Disability Travel Card Application

Community Advocacy Certificate complete!

I am very pleased and happy to have been able to complete 8 courses in 3 months, and with great marks! :)

The Community Advocacy Certificate through Lambton College offers the chance to learn and gain some great information and resources through online learning.  There are a number of courses offerered for the certificate, 8 are needed to complete the certificate.  The only mandatory course for the certificate is Community Advocacy Techniques.  Each course is 4-5 weeks in length.  There are 7-9 assignments for each course, and a final written assignment/exam.

The courses I took are as follows:

  • Community Advocacy Techniques*
  • Ontario Works Act
  • Ontario Disability Support Program Act
  • Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits
  • Residential Tenancies Act – Part 1
  • Human Rights in Ontario
  • Employment Standards Act
  • Consumer Protection Laws, Part 1

The course is not being offered again now till Fall 2011.  Information on it, in the meantime can be found here, http://www.communitylawschool.org/community.  Later in the summer the Lambton College website will have the listings as well.

It was alot of work, and I was able to gather so many resources and so much information, I really enjoyed taking it!  I’m looking forward to using the information and resources and advocating for families/individuals in whatever way I am needed.

I’m looking at more courses/workshops/seminars etc… that offer more information on Advocating, accessibility and  any other information that will/can help me help families/individuals with disabilities and special needs navigate through the various circumstances that come our way.

One course a few of us Advocates here in London are interested in a new course being offered this fall at Durham College.  It’s the only college offering it in Ontario.  http://www.hcs.durhamcollege.ca/EN/main/programs/accessibility_coordination_grad_cert.php  Right now it’s only offered full-time and in Oshawa.  I have emailed though and asked about the possibility of it being offered for distance learning.  I know there are many who would love to take this as well.

Ok…time for supper!  Have a great night!  I’ll be back! :)

Special Olympics

Special Olympics is humanity’s greatest classroom, where lessons of ability, acceptance and inclusion are taught on the fields of competition by our greatest teachers – the athletes”


Special Olympics Canada


Special Olympics International


Special Olympics Ontario




To provide year-round sports training and athletic competition for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics promotes opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and develop skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympic athletes and the community.

Over the past 40 years Special Olympics has grown from a modest program serving local athletes to become the world’s largest movement dedicated to promoting respect, acceptance, inclusion, and human dignity for people with intellectual disabilities through sports.


The purpose of this article is to bring attention and information of this great program that is available in most communities.  The benefits are great whether you are an athlete, coach, support staff or volunteer.  Your life will be enriched and forever changed.

Last summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer for the 2010 Special Olympics Summer Games held here in London, ON.  It was a time I’ll never forget!

London did an amazing job hosting and it showed in the faces and comments of the coaches, athletes and support staff.

The games created fun times and proud moments for the athletes, their teams and friends and family.  Many achieved goals, broke personal records and made new records for themselves and/or their teams.

Meeting so many wonderful people, athletes, coaches, support staff and other volunteers made this experience so amazing!  The athletes were the best!!

An Uncle of mine coaches a couple of the teams in Halifax.  When we have our family reunions they always consist of a softball game between the family and the athletes.  It’s something everyone looks forward to every year.  On top of that is a yearly BBQ my Uncle holds for them and many of the family are there to lend a hand in the preparations and happenings of the day.

There are 14 sports, and many Athletes do more than one!


  • 5 Pin Bowling
  • 10 Pin Bowling
  • Alpine Skiing
  • Athletics (Track and Field)
  • Basketball
  • Bocce
  • Curling
  • Figure Skating
  • Floor Hockey
  • Golf
  • Nordic Skiing
  • Power-lifting
  • Rhythmic Gymnastics
  • Snowshoeing
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Speed Skating
  • Swimming

There are Regional, Provincial, National and World Games held.  Provincial Games are held on a rotating basis over a four-year period.  National Games are held every 2 years on a rotating basis. Athletes are selected from national competition to advance to World Games also held every two years on a rotating winter and summer basis.

Listed below are links to the District sites for Special Olympics, followed by a link to find Special Olympic programs by Community.


Central Ontario District - http://central.specialolympicsontario.ca/

Eastern Ontario District - http://east.specialolympicsontario.ca/

GTA District Sitehttp://gta.specialolympicsontario.ca/

Northern Ontario District - http://north.specialolympicsontario.ca/

South Central District - http://southcentral.specialolympicsontario.ca/

South West District - http://southwest.specialolympicsontario.ca/


Special Olympic Programs by Community - http://directory.specialolympicsontario.ca/Community-Programs/



Special Olympics are proud to be affiliated with The Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run.


The Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run is a community-based, province-wide event that sees the “Flame of Hope” carried across Ontario by members of law enforcement agencies from across the province.  The objective of this and other events is to raise funds for and awareness of the Special Olympics movement in Ontario.

The Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run is making a difference by raising funds for Special Olympics Ontario, and all funds raised are directed into community Special Olympics programs.  As well, the torch run involves law enforcement personnel in a community based, province wide program.  The torch run sets up community partnerships with sponsors, Special Olympics volunteers and local supporters, to reach a shared vision of helping athletes.

Special Olympics Ontario uses the funds raised to support three major initiatives:

  • Competition funding for communities hosting provincial and regional competitions, including travel and registration costs
  • Staff support, including SOO field staff
  • Support grants to new programs, competitions such as Hometown Games and programs in need, which amounts to approximately $250,000 per year


The Special Olympics Programs are an amazing opportunity for youth and young adults to participate in a sport of their liking (some more than 1 or 2), make some great friendships, feel pride and accomplishment, attend some great social events, and enjoy new opportunities.

The joy and smiles on all of the Athletes faces is infectious and you can’t help but be taken in as you are surrounded by the warmth, happiness and pride!

Take a few moments to read some of the testimonials from the Athletes, coaches and family at the following link.



If you would like to become a volunteer for Special Olympics, here is where to start!



Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/specialolympicsontario

Youtube – http://www.youtube.com/specialolympicson


2 months in

2 months into 2011, and what a busy time it’s been and is.

Multiple follow-ups from Patrick’s lengthy hospital stay last fall, and a few more thrown in with other referrals, thought to be considered and necessary.

Wait for it now………………………………

I’m in College!!!

I am registered at Lambton College and taking a Certificate Program, Community Advocacy.  February 1st, began with 4 courses of the 8 courses required for the certificate.  The first 4 this month are:  Community Advocacy Techniques (the only mandatory course for the certificate), Canada Pension Plan, Ontario Works Act, and Residential Tenancies Act – Part 1.  March courses will consist of:  Employment Standards Act, Residential Tenancies Act – Part 2, and Human Rights Ontario.  The last course, set to start Apr. 1st will be Ontario Disability Support Program.

The courses for Feb are 4 weeks long.  Mar and Apr’s courses are 5 weeks each.  For the current courses now, there are 25 assignments to be completed by the 25th of Feb, then an exam to be completed by the end of the month.  Assignments are 50% of your mark and the exam is the other 50%.

It’s alot of work, but I’m really excited at finishing this certificate.  The resources and information I’ve already learned are great!!  Quite useful for an advocate!  I have organized my bookmarks into folders and categories with each ‘topic’ and ‘field’ to help locate the resources much more quickly and easier.  I’m continually finding resources that will be very helpful when helping others.

There are other courses available, on other topics that are available to be taken, but only 8 are required for the certificate.  Aside from the Community Advocacy Techniques, being mandatory, you can choose from the rest of the list, courses you think will benefit you and be useful to the people you are/may be working with.

My first meeting with the Accessibility Advisory Committee for the city is next week.  I’m looking forward to that, meeting others on the committee and being able to have a voice on accessibility in the City.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I was also going to tour a couple respite houses and see what they were like.  As of today, I have toured one and the other I will be touring next Thursday.  I know this is a good thing, it’s still going to take some getting used to, for myself and for Patrick, but I think it will be ok.  I’ve heard some nice things about the 2 remaining houses I’ve not seen yet.

I am also on a list to be called for a training date for our local Snoezelen Room.  The do the training once a month and I’m hoping the March date works out for me to attend.  February’s date found me already otherwise busy.  For those who don’t know what a snoezelen room is...

“Snoezelen or controlled multi-sensory stimulation is used for people with mental disabilities, and involves exposing them to a soothing and stimulating environment, the “snoezelen room”. These rooms are specially designed to deliver stimuli to various senses, using lighting effects, color, sounds, music, scents, etc. The combination of different materials on a wall may be explored using tactile senses, and the floor may be adjusted to stimulate the sense of balance.

Originally developed in the Netherlands in the 1970s, snoezelen rooms have been established in institutions all over the world and are especially common in Germany, where more than 1200 exist. The term “snoezelen” (pronounced /ˈsnuzələ(n)/) is a neologism formed from the Dutch “snuffelen” (to seek out, to explore) and “doezelen” (to doze, to snooze).

Ideally, snoezelen is a non-directive therapy and can be staged to provide a multi-sensory experience or single sensory focus, simply by adapting the lighting, atmosphere, sounds, and textures to the specific needs of the client at the time of use. There is no formal focus on therapeutic outcome – the focus is to assist users to gain the maximum pleasure from the activity in which they and the enabler are involved. An advantage of snoezelen is that it does not rely on verbal communication and may be beneficial for people with profound autism, as it may provide stimulation for those who would otherwise be almost impossible to reach.

Snoezelen is used for people with autism and other developmental disabilities, dementia, and brain injury.”

Knowing about this resource and having being able to be trained for the room, I feel will be a benefit to individuals/families that I am helping, should this be a resource that they may find beneficial.  Seeing and knowing what the room is like and does, will help me be more informed and perhaps alleviate any anxiety and/or answer any questions a family/individual may have regarding the Snoezelen Room.  :)

Next week is also the IPRC meeting at the highschool for Patrick.  Both Patrick & I will be in attendance.  We will be going over the transitioning for Patrick and picking his courses for the upcoming new school year.  Apparently, something all the highschools are doing now, is a $50 ‘student fee’ that is payable with registration.  I inquired what this fee was for and what it covered.  Some of the things included in that fee are a student card and a hard cover yearbook at the end of the year.  Ok…I can be cool with that  hahaha  :)

Once I find some time, I really need to sit and write about everything that happened and went on while Patrick was in hospital last fall.  I’m having a few concerns the past week that there may be some issues brewing again.  I’ve placed a call to the Neurosurgery team and am waiting for a phone call to update them and see what they’re thoughts are.

I will go into the rest later on…lunch time is almost over, its time to hit the assignments again.  I finished 2 more this morning! :)

Have a great day all!! :)



Hydrocephalus comes from two Greek words:  ‘hydro’ meaning water and ‘cephalus’ meaning head.  Hydrocephalus was also commonly called ‘water on the brain’.


There are two types of Hydrocephalus, congenital (present at birth) and acquired (by injury, trauma to the brain).


Our brains are surrounded by a fluid known as CSF, (cerebral spinal fluid), which is constantly made and circulated.  CSF is produced in the ventricles, circulates through the ventricular system through the brain and is absorbed into the blood stream.  It has many functions.   It acts as a protective cushion for the brain and spinal cord.  CSF contains nutrients and proteins the brain needs for nourishment and normal function and also carries waste away from the surrounding tissue.


When there is a problem with absorbing the CSF into the bloodstream, it starts to build up in the brain causing swelling.  This swelling can lead to a multiple of symptoms including:  enlarged head (for babies), vision problems, lethargy, irritability, vomiting, headaches, balance problems and memory issues.  These symptoms are varied and varied in degree with each individual.

Other problems that can be associated with hydrocephalus and they vary from person to person. Some problems may be:

  • Learning disabilities. Although individuals are able to learn, they may require special modifications and assistance.
  • Memory deficits
  • Psychological deficits
  • Motor Skill disabilities
  • Vision problems
  • Hearing difficulties,
  • Seizures, and
  • Hormonal imbalances.
  • Sensitivity to sound, pressure and bright lights may also be associated with the condition.

Because each case is individualized, generalizations in this category are difficult to make.


When not treated immediately, Hydrocephalus can permanently damage the brain and cause physical and mental developmental problems.  If untreated, it can be fatal.


CT Scan and/or MRI are the tests done to check for or confirm Hydrocephalus.  These machines take pictures of the brain and ventricles to show swelling, flow issues, blockages and any other details that will help them determine the reason or cause of the symptoms.


Hydrocephalus is not curable, but treatable.  Typically, shunts are used to treat Hydrocephalus.  A shunt is flexible tubing that is inserted into the ventricle(s) and then fed to another region of the body, usually the abdominal cavity where the fluid can be absorbed.  It also can be fed to one of the heart chambers as well.  At the ‘top’ of the shunt, in between the skin and the skull a valve is placed, which regulates the CSF flow.  The valve has a pressure setting and once that pressure is reached, it kicks in and diverts the CSF to the other region and the CSF is then absorbed there.


There is another treatment for Hydrocephalus called, Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (ETV), but not everyone is a candidate for this procedure.  You can find more information on this procedure here: http://www.hydroassoc.org/education_support/faq#22


Shunts are still prone to issues.  They can become infected and/or become blocked.  If they become infected, they are removed, replaced and treated with antibiotics.  If they become blocked, and there is no infection, the part that is blocked, can usually be replaced.


When an individual’s health has been good for a period of time, check up CT Scans are done yearly (depending on individual) as well, a shunt survey, which is an x-ray to make sure there is enough tubing in the abdominal cavity for growth.  Depending on how quick the individual grows, the need for lengthening will vary.


Hydrocephalus is treatable.  Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns, they will refer you, if necessary, to a neurosurgeon for further assessment and treatment.

Below, is some helpful information on Hydrocephalus.


*Please note, this article is not intended for diagnosis, please consult your doctor if you have any comments, questions and/or concerns regarding yourself or an individual.  This article is meant for information purposes only.


Some of the information above and more can also be found at the following links.


Hydrocephalus Foundation Inc. – http://www.hydrocephalus.org/

910 Rear Broadway, Rt. 1

Saugus, MA 01906
Phone: 781-942-1161


Hydrocephalus Associationhttp://www.hydroassoc.org/

870 Market Street, Suite 705

San Francisco, CA 94102

Telephone: (415) 732-7040 / (888) 598-3789

Fax: (415) 732-7044


Medline Plushttp://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/hydrocephalus.html


Written by Renée MacLachlan: November/08



**Please note: that this is just to serve as an information resource, this is not to be used for diagnosis.  If you have any medical concerns or questions, please see your doctor for a proper diagnosis.

Augmentative Communication

*Did you know….

  • that 1 in 10 Canadians has a speech, language or hearing problem
  • an estimated 4% of the preschool population has a significant speech or language disorder
  • 8% to 12% of school children have some form of speech or language impairment
  • communication disorders in school-aged children are often misdiagnosed as learning disabilities or behavioural problems, and can be very difficult to treat in later years.  Children with behavioural problems are ten times more likely than other children to have language disorders
  • a child should use 200 or more words by the time they are 2-3 years old and by the age of 4 1/2 their vocabulary should consist of approximately 2000 words
  • speech and language disorders are strongly related to failure in reading and writing
  • drop our rates in students with communication disorders is 43% compared to 23% in non-impaired students

    *The Ontario Association for Families of Children with Communication Disorders: http://www.oafccd.com/


What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and who uses it?


Augmentative, sometimes referred to as alternative communication (AAC) is a method of communication used by individuals with severe speech and language disabilities, those who have cerebral palsy, autism, ALS, suffered from a stroke, etc.

Some people have complex communication needs associated with a wide range of physical, sensory and environmental causes which restrict/limit their ability to participate independently in society. They and their communication partners may benefit from using AAC methods.

Having a severe speech problem affects many aspects of a person’s life. It may affect one’s ability to live in the community, direct one’s care, find employment, discuss sexual matters and report or prevent abuse

AAC is for those individuals who are unable to use verbal speech yet are cognitively able or when speech is extremely difficult to understand. These individuals will use gestures, communications boards, pictures, symbols, drawings or a combination of all of these. An individual would point to a single meaning picture – for instance if the individual was hungry, the picture may look like somebody eating. If the individual is also physically impaired, a head pointer may be worn to indicate the picture, which would relay the feeling.

The methods of AAC will vary and be personalized to meet the needs of the individual. Many forms of AAC will have an Assistive technology component, which will come in both high-tech and low-tech strategies. You don’t need special skills for understanding an individual who is using ACC, as the processes are self-explanatory.

AAC refers to ways other than speech that are used to communicate. Most people who use AAC have a variety of communication systems. Depending on their needs and skills they usually include a number of aided and unaided communication systems.

Unaided AAC systems might include:
Voice; nodding and shaking one’s head; facial expression; pointing or looking at desired objects; gestures; sign languages.

Aided AAC systems might include:
Communication displays (comprised of written words, letters or phrases, pictures or symbols); devices which speak or print out messages; call bells etc.

There are specialized AAC Services available to assist people in determining the AAC systems which best meet their needs and skills.

Here is a list of centres in Ontario for Augmentative Communication, http://www.accpc.ca/aboutaac-ontarioservices.htm


This information is for just that, information purposes only.   If you have questions and want more information, consult your Speech and Augmentative Communication Therapists.