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Being involved in CAGs: The experience of an SLT student

Being involved in the Communication Abilities Group (CAGs) at TalkLink in Auckland highlighted the power of support groups and networks for adults with communication difficulties. As a Speech Language Therapy (SLT) student, I was fortunate enough to participate in CAGs this year. CAGs is a group for adults who use low and high tech multimodal communication systems to assist their communication in their daily life. This group offers a way for people affected by speech and language difficulties to socialise with others and practice using their communication devices discussing a wide range of interesting topics.


I had many enjoyable and rewarding experiences through observing one and running two sessions with the support of the TalkLink team. On the first day, we met all the CAGs members and helped them to participate in the group. I learnt about how to support CAGs members to actively communicate in group discussion in meaningful ways. With my Speech Language Therapy colleague, Samantha Dame and the TalkLink team we ran a group discussion about food and a craft project where each member decorated their photos for the CAGs members’ display board.


One of the most enjoyable aspects was getting to know the CAGs members and learning about the augmentative and alternative (AAC) communication tools and strategies that have helped them communicate. Through spending time with these clients, I got the opportunity to learn about how using core vocabulary is an integral part of an AAC system that can be used to meet most communication needs. The core boards and AAC apps used at CAGs reflect this. The biggest challenge was allowing everyone time to communicate and to share their experiences and thoughts while keeping the group running cohesively.


It has been such an eye opening experience and a wonderful opportunity to meet and work with a lovely group of people. I would like to thank the team at TalkLink and CAGs members for welcoming me into your group and for this invaluable learning experience.


Alice Darragh 2nd year Speech Language Therapy, University of Auckland

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Ann Smaill

Ann Smaill

General Manager, Speech Language Therapist at The Talklink Trust
I am the General Manager of the TalkLink Trust, and also a speech-language therapist. I have been working with people who have complex communication needs for many years.
Ann Smaill

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.talklink.org.nz/index.php/2016/12/14/being-involved-in-cags-the-experience-of-an-slt-student/

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