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"When starting working life communication is especially important"
School is out, working life begins: an exciting time in which everything changes. Also for people who articulate with the help of Alternative Communication (AC). The auxiliary means have to function exactly so that the transition functions easily.
Therefore, the Advice Centre for AC in Bruchsal, Germany, has been offering help to users after the graduation since 2009. The leader of the centre, certificate pedagogue Anja Göttsche, spoke with REHACARE.de about the right diagnostics and the successful application of AC.
REHACARE.de: Mrs. Göttsche, why was the advice centre brought to life?
Anja Göttsche: In Baden-Wurttemberg children and teenagers with communication interferences get help in the AC advice centres of the schools for people with physical handicap and are supplied with auxiliary means of communication. After leaving school the affected persons cannot use this offer anymore. We want to facilitate the start into professional life for them.
REHACARE.de: How do the devices have to be updated?
Göttsche: Many clients have already communicated at school with auxiliary means. To be able to use their communication systems also further on the vocabulary of the devices must be adapted to the new needs. With the new job words, for example from the area gardening or housekeeping, become important. In addition, subjects like partnership, spare time or living also become significant.
REHACARE.de: What else has to be considered?
Göttsche: To set up AC after school it is important to inform the professional forces about the communicative needs, abilities and development potentialities of people with communication interferences. Since often they had no points of contact with this subject before.
REHACARE.de: How do the consultations run off?
Göttsche: Mostly, I visit the clients at home and in their working surroundings. Besides, I also try to involve as many attachment figures as possible. I have a look at the whole social network. Besides, the needs of the individuals can be very different; hence, the construction of a communication system must be adapted individually. After a need inquiry we develop a care draught.
Anne Göttsche supports people with communication difficulties; © AGF
REHACARE.de: How is the resonance to the consultation offer?
Göttsche: The interest grows. We support our clients when required while learning alternative communication systems, in the creation of their surroundings and with the cooperation with institutions and cost units, so that they can take part again actively and self-determined in lessons, work and everyday life. For professional forces and institutions we offer workshops, events of information and advanced training.
REHACARE.de: Do the users have to bear the costs themselves?
Göttsche: Basically there are different possibilities of the assumption of costs for our offers. In some cases a private assumption of costs is possible. At the moment, we carry on conversations with different cost bearers like health insurances and integration aids.
REHACARE.de: What does AC mean to you?
Göttsche: Communicative competence means the condition for self-determination and participation for me. AC can support affected persons to have control and influence on own life creation and own everyday life. In particular, the developments in the area of electronic communication facilities open new ways of the notification for the affected people.
REHACARE.de: As your examples show …
Göttsche: One child started with sign language, later a dynamic communication aid helped it and today it is able to speak and goes to a Montessori school. A woman did not manage with her head control anymore because her physical constitution had got worse. Now, she uses an eye control and can live her everyday life again with a lot of fun.
REHACARE.de: What is important about the application of AC?
Göttsche: Everyday life confronts people with communication interferences over and over again with special challenges. So that they can participate in her personal future planning self-determined and actively their resources must be determined. The possibilities and borders for a life with AC lie not only in the user himself. It is a matter of creating workshops, to hostels, on the general job market and in the politics supporting conditions for a success of the AC in schools.
The interview was conducted by Natascha Mörs.