Christina Hunger, author of ?How Stella Learned to Talk,? discusses her book and her dog training

A: I think one is that since I am giving Stella a way to say words I am taking away from her natural forms of expression. But that’s just completely the opposite of what’s happening. Using the words is just one of the ways for her to express herself. She is incredibly expressive through all of her natural forms — and now in words, too. She also expresses herself through, for instance, barking, tail wagging, pawing at things and turning her ears. It’s really interesting, too, because with humans, research has shown that using AAC devices doesn’t take away from verbal speech development, if anything it helps verbal speech development. People were once scared that introducing an AAC device would keep kids from talking. But we’ve found that when kids have success communicating in one area it goes to all areas. And that’s something I’m seeing with Stella. She has so much success and so many ways to communicate, that all forms of communication are amplified.

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