He Can’t? I Bet He Can!

Not too long ago I did an AAC assessment for a young teen who is severely - profoundly motorically disabled.  He cannot move any but his facial muscles, so it was an evaluation of different eye gaze systems, both no tech and high tech. No low-tech options available for potential eye gaze users.

simon says AAC

His mother was a bit unsure about the assessment; telling me he really didn’t have much to motivate him.  He didn’t really like “things” or technology, she said; he’s more of a people watcher.  He likes being social.

AAC game of Simon Says

I could understand not being motivated by things.  Given his inability to interact with “stuff,” I wasn’t surprised he really wasn’t interested in much.  I also understood being socially motivated.  He was, after all, a teenager; albeit one with none of the usual experiences his typical peers have had.

What was needed was a way to motivate him to communicate, even though he had little prior experience with communicating. The manufacturer’s rep who had brought this eye gaze system and I decided to try a game of Simon Says.  This is a great way to introduce cause and effect and it worked like a charm.

For the next 20-30 minutes, he was able to direct us to turn around, sit down, stand up, dance, and more.  The smile on his face was amazing! He was so happy that he could tell us what to do; that he had the power to do that.  Most of his face was taken up by this smile.  Writing the report was a no-brainer (after we tried the required 2 more systems needed for both good decision making and a funding report, of course).

So, don’t write off your student as being “unmotivated” by anything.  Brainstorm with fellow team members, family, and friends to think outside the box about what might work for him.  And remember - it’s all about the power!

I was so happy that “Simon Says” worked for him, that I made a resource all about learning core verbs, adjectives, and prepositions through directing actions.  You can check it out here.

Have fun, and….. keep on talking!


  1. How exciting!!! This is such an incredible story. I would have given anything to have seen the look on his face when he realized there was a way for him to have a voice!!!

  2. Love this story, thanks for sharing

  3. What a wonderful story! Who knew that Simon Says could produce such a magical outcome!

  4. Mary, his smile was literally from ear to ear. It was magical! b Thanks for reading .

  5. I love the positivity of your story! Thank you for sharing!

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