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How Katie Got a Voice

Do you want to introduce your child to disabilities? How about educating your children about individuals who are nonverbal? I bought the book, How Katie Got a Voice by Patricia Mervine, MA, CCC-SLP many months ago and really enjoyed it. I have read it to my own children and recently got an opportunity to speak about augmentative and alternative communication to a 2nd grade girl scout troop. Being an instructor, I can discuss this topic with ease when explaining it to graduate students, teachers, and other speech language pathologists. However, how can I explain this area of AAC to a group of 2nd graders? One of the ways that I explain many topics is through children’s books. I decided to use this book, How Katie Got a Voice to help explain the topic of AAC. AAC is the acronym for Augmentative and alternative communication(AAC) which is an umbrella term that includes the communication methods used to supplement or replace speech or writing for those with impairments spoken or written language.

How Katie Got a Voice is about a young girl named Katie who is physical disabled and unable to speak. When she joins a fourth grade class, the other children try to interact with her but they have a difficult time due to her limitations. How can Katie play? How can Katie tell jokes? How can Katie read books? The children in the class are determined to find a nickname for Katie because of all of the children in the class already have a nickname that defines them. They initiate the conversation with the teacher who employs the speech language pathologist to help with Katie’s communication. Katie works hard with the her speech pathologist and finds a way to communicate via  a switch and a communication device. The other students are overjoyed because now Katie can read books and play music with her switch and tell jokes and communicate via her device. Katie now has a voice! The children name her “CommuniKatie” after Katie requests a nickname via her communication device. I really enjoyed this book because it helped explain the challenges of both the students and the child with disabilities. It’s a book of acceptance, kindness and a beneficial book to have in any school or home library.

Carryover Activity: After reading the book to the class, I asked questions and demonstrated the use of a specific communication system on my iPad (e.g. Touch Chat, Proloquo2Go, etc). I passed around the various iPads I had and asked the children to each create a sentence with the specific communication app I set up for them. This was a thoughtful exercise because many of the children had challenges with finding the vocabulary to create a sentence. I then explained the challenges of learning a language system, which they were beginning to understand and have perspective.

How Katie Got a Voice: (And a Cool New Nickname)

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