ASHBY 10-year-old Abigail Tipple and her family were among several local families who took part in the Variety Motor Mouth Camp this year.
The four-day camp at Point Walter Recreation and Conference Centre combined fun with intensive therapy and training for kids who live with communication difficulties, as well as their parents, siblings and carers.
For many of these families and kids, communication is not easy, often relying on a combination of subtle signs like blinks, nods or noises, alongside augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) aids to express their needs and wants.
The camp provided intensive support from volunteer speech, occupational and physio therapists, with attendees then able to use their new communication skills to take part in activities that tied in with the camp’s Shipwrecked theme such as sensory activities with aquatic creatures and family raft building by the river.
Abigail, who has autism, attended the camp with family members Simon Tipple and Catherine Ma.
Jindalee resident Lola Syder (8), who has Rhett syndrome, also attended with her family.
Variety WA chief executive Michael Pailthorpe said the camp was an opportunity for children using AAC to get to know others in the same situation, share experiences and make friends.
“The primary aim of the camp is for kids using AAC to improve their system use and become more competent communicators in a fun and relaxing environment,” he said.
This year’s event also included the new Variety Silence the CEO fundraiser, which called on business leaders to live one day of silence like many of the kids at the Motor Mouth Camp.
“You wouldn’t usually expect CEOs, general managers and chairpersons to be silent in the boardroom but that’s exactly what the leaders of some of WA’s top businesses did,” Mr Pailthorpe said.
Instead, participants relied on sign language, digital communication and a signing board to complete their usual workday activities.