Take a minute to ask yourself these two very important questions:
Who do you trust?
Would you trust them with your voice?
As a neurotypical speaking person, it is easy for me to take for granted the power my voice holds. I have the ability to use my voice freely and willingly; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The students I work with do not always have this luxury. Many are limited to using their voice when they have a session scheduled with a communication partner.
Imagine the pressure you must feel to convey your thoughts into a weekly session that might only last 50 minutes.
Knowing how precious this time is, I need to remember that building a trusting relationship with my students plays a major role as a communication partner. Feeling comfortable with each other during a session should be reciprocal.
Building trust needs to be earned and it takes time and practice.
As a communication partner (CP) it is important to have a real understanding of what the term “Presume Competence'' means. Can you apply this to your practice and make it part of your philisophy?
Things that have worked for me and my journey as a communication partner include:
Prioritizing age-appropriate discussion
Mindset; what are you feeling and thinking prior to a session?
It is not enough for me to say I presume competence. I need to put my thoughts into action. Recently I spent time asking some of my students what a trusting relationship meant to them.
Here is what they said:
“I need to work with a communication partner who believes in me. This means understanding my words are real. I have so much to say and i have to know my partner understands.” -Nick
“When I was introduced to the world of spelling and typing everything changed. I live in a new world where only some people know how to support my communication needs. I have to trust teachers making decisions for me everyday without communicating. I have to get to and from school safely by trusting the bus driver. A big new trust I feel is with my communication partner. Miranda has taught me to push myself. I know she wants what is best for me. I give myself permission to use my thoughts that have been trapped. This is a risk but one i am willing to take” - Ryan
“Communication partners are the key to my success. Good ones are anyway. I need to feel comfortable. Its hard to do when the majority of your day is trapped away. It is important i know they get it. They have to be open to body dysregulation and understanding unreliable speech has nothing to do with intelligence. That is just the first layer. Patient people make good candidates as well.” - Ethan
Listening to my students makes our trusting relationship bloom.