Title: Make the Connection!: A Practical Guide to Parents and Professionals for Teaching the Nonverbal Child to Communicate with AAC
Author: Susan Berkowitz
Effective communication, especially between parents and their children, form the cornerstone of every relationship. In her book, Make the Connection, Susan Berkowitz tackles the challenges that parents and professionals dealing with speech difficulties face. Based on 40 years of experience, it details ideas and strategies to form a practical guide for communicating with the non-verbal child.
The book was well-organized. The author clearly stated her objectives from the outset and there was a clear progression from simple concepts to more complex ones. Unlike other books, she provided a glossary early on to explain some of the technical terms that will be used throughout the book. However, defining those terms within the context of the chapters where they might be relevant would have worked better than an itemized list, especially for less experienced readers.
Most people will not be familiar with augmentative/alternative communication (AAC), which was the focal point of this body of work. Laying down some background information, such as the history of AAC or the indications for use, would have led to a slightly better understanding of what it’s all about. That being said, the book is clearly intended for a specific group of readers and presumes they will have some form of knowledge about or have experience using AAC.
The book went into an in-depth analytical discussion of available alternative communication methods. It highlighted the advantage and disadvantage of each, confronted the myths surrounding AAC, and discussed techniques to maximize the communication activity or experience. It was well-researched and referenced relevant works and current studies to support the author’s assertions. For those who deal with these challenges on a daily basis, the book is simply a gold mine of information.
Susan Berkowitz was adamant about wanting this book to appeal to parents as well as professionals. The tone reflected that: light, conversational, and an appealing writing style elevates this book above your average textbook. Where the book truly shined was when the author was able to use anecdotes of her own successes and failures to connect with readers, and this balanced out the chapters that veered toward being dry and clinical.
Throughout this entire process, the author never failed to emphasize the importance of assessing the individualized needs of the child. There was a clear acknowledgement that children learn in different ways and at different paces. Mixing and matching the wide variety of techniques presented in this text will give the parent or professional more options, and more importantly it will give the child his or her best chance at being able to communicate with the world at large.
Make The Connection is a comprehensive look into the world of speech difficulties, grounded by an author whose clear passion for the subject matter was evident in each chapter. It encourages people to have a conversation about the art of conversation itself, and what we can do to support those who struggle with something most people often take for granted. Informative, intuitive, and interactive, this book is a handy companion for those wishing to delve into the field of alternative communication for children.
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