Article by Elizabeth Bahr, MA, CCC-SLP
I recently met a person with severe expressive aphasia who was visiting my area from Mississippi. He was wearing at least 3 pieces of Ole Miss paraphernalia at the time. College football season was just beginning and his wife informed me they were season ticket holders for Ole Miss Football. I couldn’t resist… as a Florida Gator I know there is nothing like some good old fashioned SEC banter!
This gentleman had his Tobii Dynavox Maestro with him when we met. When asked if he used it a lot, he and his wife reported it was a definite learning-curve to work it into their daily lives, but once they did, it’s become a fixture in most of their interactions. As soon as I mentioned my SEC team of choice, the multimodal communication began including facial expressions and gestures. My favorite one was his dramatic pinching of the nose (a.k.a. “they stink”). I asked him why he didn’t like my beloved Florida Gators and he used his ‘what I think’ page under My Phrases folder to illustrate his point a bit clearer! A family member had added more vocabulary to this page. The page comes with general terms, (terrible, awful, bad), but he also had more sport-specific words, (winless, weak, over-rated). On this page he also had terms he used to give his opinions on the stock market. He worked in finance most of his life and his wife stated that after SEC football, he loved to talk about the market and their stocks. I thought this was a wonderful idea. Instead of just making a page of ‘stocks’ and a page for ‘football’, which he had, they incorporated vocabulary he would use within those favorite topics throughout his device. This gave him more vocabulary with a more natural flow throughout the system.
I was quickly losing this SEC debate. I pulled out the big guns; I asked him how many SEC championships his team won lately, knowing the answer would be 3 less than my Gators! He minimized his Series 5 software and opened a PDF document that was linked to his desktop. That document was what I feared he would bring up, the 2008 Ole Miss Season schedule recap. He quickly pointed to the big win over the Gators and the facial expressions and gestures began again. He then went back to his Series 5 software and used his numbers page to type ‘600’ and then picked ‘win’ off his football page. Sure enough, he was correct, that victory was also Ole Miss Rebel’s 600th victory of all time, making it that much sweeter. Uh oh.
He then opened his monthly calendar in his Series 5 software and pointed to December 1, 2012. He had “SEC Championship Game” written in. He pointed to himself and to me with a nod. I replied “yes, it would be nice to have a Gator vs. Rebel SEC game this year!” If that did happen, hopefully my team would fare better than I had; my new friend used total communication to clearly win this match-up!