Supporting people with PMLD
Last week we attended the Communication Matters Study day to discuss the following topic: Where next for People with Cognitive Disabilities and Electronic Assistive Technology? The event gathered various experts in the field and consisted of talks and specific case studies followed by an open discussion about what can be done to better support people with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities. Here are the key takeaways: 1. Supporting the exiting abilities of people with PMLD We tend to teach people how to behave, to fill their lack of abilities instead of learning from what they can do and therefore offering the adapted solution. 2. A multidisciplinary person-centered assessment The need for communication assistive tools for people with PMLD should be evaluated by a multidisciplinary team, including a physiotherapist, a psychotherapist, and a speech and language therapist. The motor and mental capacities need to be taken into account. Some people will be physically able to reach a switch but will feel very anxious being pushed out of their comfort zone, for instance. 3. Practice, Motivation, Support What we learned from this study day is the importance of practice. Listening to AAC specialists’ feedback made us realise the amount of time and training needed for people with PMLD to master a new communication assistive tool. It is crucial for carers and families to work together in this long training process, support each other and keep motivated. 4. A lack of awareness in AAC It is nowadays very difficult to get access to Augmentative and Alternative Communication. People need to prove a rigid number of competencies in order to be referred to a speech and language therapist. According to the experts, these criteria need to be much more flexible. Many health centers lack equipment and knowledge about the various AAC existing options. There is an urge to raise AAC awareness in order to change the culture and give people with PMLD their basic right to expression.