How do people make a choice when they can only accept or reject what’s offered? That’s the problem some people living in residential facilities with little or no speech can face.
It may help if staff ask questions, such as “Would you like sausages? or “Would you like chicken?” But that’s only two choices. And the person has to know what the words mean and have a way to indicate yes or no. That’s hard for some people.
It can be easier if there are pictures to choose from.
It can be even easier – and more empowering – if the pictures are used with Talking Mats ®
Many options can be explored and a person can have a record of all the preferences they’ve identified. (That’s why Talking Mats is also a great planning tool!)
Dietitians at Bendigo Health wanted a way for people with communication disabilities living in the community to have more food choices, including the healthy ones! They wanted people with communication disabilities to have their choices heard by the people supporting them at home.
In partnership with the Southern Loddon Mallee Regional Communication Service, the dietitians developed a set of Talking Mats with photos of many different food options.
The Bendigo Health Food Preferences Talking Mats kit:
In Talking Mats, each card shows a picture of a different item. A person places their preferred items on the left and non-preferred items on the right. Items without a strong preference go in between.
There are 9 sets of cards in the Bendigo Health kit. They are: snacks, vegetables, cereals, takeaway, drinks, meat & alternative, fruit, dairy and exercise.
Here’s how one person completed her Talking Mat about her meat/alternatives preferences:
Some of these may be foods she had not thought of – or ones she had not been able to ask for.
Having her own photos of her mats mean she can communicate her food choices and have more variety in what she eats.
[We used the header cards (which were user tested) with permission from Talking Mats https://www.talkingmats.com/ It is well worth a visit for resources and more information about Talking Mats.