A Bit About Us

Communication is Key AAC is a Michigan non-profit organization that believes that every individual has the right to be able to communicate. Our mission is to improve access to communication for those with complex communication needs by increasing training for Speech pathologists, teachers, support staff in schools and the community, and families, and increasing opportunities for those with complex communication needs to meet others with similar needs.

Communication is Key was founded by families who were frustrated with the support (or lack thereof) their children were receiving from local schools and therapy facilities. 

People with complex communication needs have a right to communicate, and a lack of trained staff who can help them learn to communicate effectively is an impediment to achieving their goals. A lack of role models who also use communication methods other than their voices hampers their development as competent communicators as well.

It is our goal to improve services to those with complex communication needs, and their families, in order to help them reach their communication potential.

 
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Julia Dapkus

Executive Director & Founder

Hi, I’m Julia. A warrior mom, advocate, and high school teacher by trade to Isabelle 8, a complex multimodal communicator. Isabelle is an outgoing, smart, opinionated, social, empathetic, joyful, curious little girl who is passionate about her family, dance, swim, and all things messy. She lights up any room, finds any way to have fun, and definitely keeps everyone on their toes! We began our AAC journey around 3.5 years old with the guidance and expertise of a dedicated private SLP who TRULY believed in Isabelle, and we will forever be so grateful for her. Isabelle is a functional Proloquo2Go user. Our journey has been long and exhausting navigating this very unique life. Some days are filled with overwhelming despair and the stress of raising a complex communicator…..and trying to live a balanced “normal” happy life! I started Communication is Key AAC after years of submerging myself into trainings, conferences, research, and literature, while realizing I was only one of a handful of parents in attendance. While I understood that it is not feasible for parents or school professionals to always attend these types of things, but what I could NOT understand was why this crucial information about AAC wasn't trickling down to the parents and caregivers and other key adults in their lives. So I finally decided it was time to give other families and ourselves a mutual safe interactive place of support, ideas, education, networking, knowledge, and experience. Our organization has a total grass-roots approach, as we all have experienced the joys and extreme hardships of parenting special needs; sometimes within just an hour!  I am so fortunate that we have such a fun, supportive, personal and professional organic relationship, and am so proud to be their friend and colleague.  When we have family downtime, we love to spend time in Northern Michigan, SWIMMING in our year-round pool, going out for Isabelle’s favorite hamburger with red onions (true), and fries, as well as dance offs, lots of creative play, and outdoor adventures. Thank you for taking the time to learn about our organization and we have lots of opportunities available for volunteers, fundraising, and sponsorship!