Growing up, I would always get asked, “where are you from?”. As a young child living in Florida, I spoke in a dialect much different than those around me. I spoke in my parents’ dialect. My parents immigrated to the United States from Trinidad in the 80s, leaving their large extended family in search of a better life.
My brothers and I looked forward to spending summers on the tiny island, under the hot sun, bouncing from family home to family home. Our large, tightly knit family all lived within a 5-minute driving radius. My days were spent running in backyards with my cousins, who were (and still are) my best friends. I took in the smells of Sunday lunch being made in my grandmother’s kitchen. I ate “doubles” and watched as the spicy filling spilled onto my small hands. I learned new vocabulary, inherent to the linguistic traits of our little island. I learned to “lime” (hang out), eat “chips” (French fries), and “get vex” when someone upset me.
I look back at those formative years and recognize the impact that each member of my family made on my life, and even my language. This was my “village” and I am grateful to this day for everything they have done for me.
I say this because you are not in this AAC journey alone. It truly does take a village. More than that, it takes time. You have the unique ability to instill values, culture, and language with the support of those individuals who love and care for your child as much as you do.
Heading to an aunt’s home for dinner? Make sure your child’s AAC system tags along for the fun! Take that wonderful family moment to model some words on your child’s system and involve them in your traditions and cultures. “Are you ready to eat? Oh look, aunty made us a yummy dinner!”
Who is a part of your village?
Remember, this journey starts with a single step and I am thrilled to walk with you.
You got this!