By Shelley Harris, Children’s Librarian
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” That’s a quote from my favorite book, Anne of Green Gables, and one I fully agree with. I love the colors of October, the crisp air of October, the falling temperatures of October. It all fills me with joy.
October is also notable, though, because it’s the month set aside to celebrate Down Syndrome and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Awareness! Augmentative and alternative communication is how we communicate beyond spoken language: gestures, eye gaze, vocalizations, sign language, facial expressions, icons, books, or devices. Learn more about AAC »
These celebrations are near and dear to me and to my colleague Jenny Jackson, Early Childhood Community Engagement Coordinator. Below find videos, books, and resources to explore together.
Watch these videos
Check out these fun supported videos, with visuals for kids who need extra support. In the first video, we use Proloquo2Go core boards to discuss what we see, feel, hear, and touch outside.
We can explore animals we see in autumn and over yonder with a fun song.
Explore the new Supported Services page
Have you visited our new Supported Services page yet? It brings together all of our programs, supports, collections, and posts about what we offer patrons with disabilities, with plenty specifically for kids. See the new page »
Check out a tablet with augmentative & alternative communication apps
New in our collection: tablets loaded with augmentative and alternative communication apps. This is a quick and free way to test out popular apps and see if they work for you!
Tablets are loaded with Grid, LAMP Words for Life, TD Snap, TouchChat, Proloquo, Proloquo2Go, and Proloquo Coach, an app for parents and caregivers that guides you through practicing, modeling, and integrating Proloquo into daily life.
Use your Oak Park Public Library card to place one on hold »
Browse these books
When we’re celebrating Down Syndrome Awareness or AAC Awareness, it’s important to find resources that center people with those identities. Look for material written by people with Down Syndrome or who use AAC, or titles that are about those people and not someone around them.
Unfortunately, there are very few books published about people with Down Syndrome. Everything is about their friends or siblings or parents. Isn’t that sad? So many people will never see an authentic representation of themselves in a book. Similarly, there are not many books about kids who use AAC. We can only hope those numbers change in the future.
Two books to try:
- Dancing With Daddy is about a girl very excited to go to a winter dance with her father, but the weather might put an end to her dreams. The main character uses a PODD (Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display) book, which is clearly shown in the illustrations.
- Melody from the Out of My Mind series thinks, “Just because I can’t talk, doesn’t mean that I have nothing to say.” Eventually, she is given a communication device and is able to join in activities with her peers.
Explore online resources
- Lauren Potter, an actress and advocate with Down Syndrome, and CoorDown created a great video for World Down Syndrome Day talking about the euphemism “special needs” and how their needs aren’t “special.”
- Many misconceptions about Down Syndrome are incredibly damaging, including the ideas that people with Down Syndrome are always happy, that they ruin marriages, that they can’t learn or get a job. Simply ridiculous! Learn about the reality of life with Down Syndrome »
- The National Association for Down Syndrome is located in the Chicagoland area and has multiple self-advocacy programs.
- Gigi’s Playhouse is a nationwide network of Down Syndrome Achievement Centers with therapies and programs. When the first one opened back in 2002, I ran Sibshops there, which are workshops with play and discussions for kids who have a disabled sibling!
- Lee Ridley is a British stand-up comedian known as Lost Voice Guy who won Britain’s Got Talent in 2018. He uses AAC in daily life and for his routines, and is absolutely hilarious.
- In these videos, self-advocates share their perspectives and experiences of using their AAC devices in daily life.
- Jordyn Zimmerman is a nonspeaking autistic educator whose life was changed after receiving access to communication via an AAC device.
What supported resources would you like to see at the library? We’re always listening. Email email@example.com »
Shelley is a children’s librarian with a passion for early literacy, serving and celebrating the disability community, and exploring technology. She can often be found practicing storytime songs with her black lab, Bingo.