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KiwiChat Sibling Camp 2017 – Part 1 of 2

We were very excited to host our first ever Circus themed KiwiChat Sibling Camp in the April school holidays.  Sibling Camp was a two day experience designed to provide siblings of children who use AAC with the opportunity to:

  • Connect with other siblings of children who use communication systems.
  • Learn more about using communication systems.
  • Discover how to be a good communication partner for their brother or sister who uses a communication system.


On Day 1, the siblings came on their own and spent time getting to know one another, learning more about communication systems and how to be an effective communication partner. Each child was provided with the same communication system that their brother or sister uses. Each adult had a PODD book or core board to model on and everyone communicated using AAC for the entire day. On Day 2, their brothers and sisters who use communication systems, as well as at least one parent joined the siblings. We had the opportunity to put into practice some of the skills we learned on Day 1 and to have loads of fun.

We had loads of fun playing pie face, face painting, dressing up as circus characters and so much more! Thanks to Rowan from Circus in a Flash who allowed us all to participate in circus performances and entertained us with some daring feats! (check out the TalkLink Facebook page for some videos in a few week’s time!)

One mum shared the following about her children’s learning from the camp: “They learned to be patient for a response and loved being able to feel like they had their own communication system for a few days. I think they have more understanding of what it would be like for A as they tried to communicate as much as possible with the iPad and TouchChat with WordPower. I also think they enjoyed meeting others who use communication systems and their families and seeing how everyone is different.”

KiwiChat Sibling Camp 2017 resulted from a need identified at KiwiChat Camp in 2016. For her Master’s degree, Jessamy Bell interviewed the children who used AAC, their parents, and siblings who attended KiwiChat Camp. The siblings reported that they had not had much training on how to use their brother or sister’s communication system and would love to be able to use it more effectively to communicate with their sibling. Hence TalkLink Trust and Sally Clendon from Massey University decide to create a camp specifically focused on supporting these brothers and sisters. We were very privileged to have a 4th year Honours student, Jenna Land, from Massey University who was inspired to do a follow-up study this year. This study will explore the experiences of the siblings who attended KiwiChat Sibling Camp and their perceptions of receiving specific training around communication systems and how they can support their brother or sister. We look forward to a summary of this research later this year.

Special thanks to Sunnydene Special School for letting us use your beautiful facilities, Mackenzie and Tish for sharing your experiences, the Massey University Speech Language Therapy students for giving up your time and modelling communication with so much joy, Massey University for your financial support, the TalkLink staff and Sally Clendon (Massey University) for your dedication and hard work in making this a fun learning experience for everyone involved and most of all THANK YOU to all of the families who came to camp and made all of this worth it!


We hope to have another KiwiChat Sibling Camp in 2019, so check the TalkLink Trust Facebook page and website for new information.


Jessamy Bell

Speech Language Therapist, TalkLink Trust


Permanent link to this article: https://www.talklink.org.nz/index.php/2017/05/24/kiwichatsiblingcamp2017-1/

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