Using Technology to Build Relationships
by Kimberlee Pederson and Courtney Reimann
During the past year, the YAP office in Crawford County, PA has had the unique opportunity to support a Chinese American family and their daughter Jing Jing. Jing Jing Huang and her mother, Angel Huang, moved to Pennsylvania from China approximately 4 years ago. Jing Jing is in her 20’s and is diagnosed with Autism and Intellectual Disabilities. Angel sought out ID/DD services because she wanted Jing Jing to become more independent at home.
Last year, YAP staff members Alysha Giddings and Kimberlee Pederson sat down with the Huang’s to discuss YAP’s services. A language barrier made the process difficult to impossible. Angel Huang showed Alysha the Google Translate application on her phone and Alysha promptly downloaded the same app. Like magic, the app translated between Chinese and English and true communication became possible. Alysha began services that day and worked with Jing Jing for many months.
Alysha explained that she, “felt nervous because of the language barrier and because it was the first time I would be working with an individual who is nonverbal.” Alysha went on to say, “I was looking forward to a challenge and trying something new.” Alysha feels that some of her success with working with the Huang family is due to needing the right person to give it a try right away and that downloading the app at the first meeting greatly helped the family feel more comfortable.
Alysha has since moved on to another job, but Samantha Seeley stepped into her role. Using the same Google Translate app and a similar approach Samantha quickly built rapport with the family. Most recently, the family is now comfortable with Samantha introducing Jing Jing to new activities in her community.
Many YAP staff members know that their position has an impact that often extends beyond their individual client and benefits the family as a whole. Jing jing’s mother, Angel, expressed that she appreciates having an English speaker regularly in her home because it helps her with improving her own English speaking skills.
The Google Translate App helped everyone find common ground to communicate and build relationships. This success story is about being in the right place at the right time, being open to trying new things, and following the lead of the parent and individual to find out what they really need to be successful.