LJ S LJ Seiff: Camp Chatterbox Camper

They’re so skillful and knowledgeable and have made camp such a fun experience over the years.

LJ Seiff, now 13 years old, was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy with right side hemiparesis and visual impairment after a hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy injury (brain damage caused by oxygen loss) at birth. With this diagnosis, LJ uses assistive technology, including Augmentive and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices to communicate.

About six years ago, a speech language pathologist that LJ works with near his Arlington, VA home, told him and his mom, Jenn Seiff, about Camp Chatterbox. “We don’t typically run into many neighbors who know what AAC is,” shares Jenn. “When we heard about Camp Chatterbox, we were eager and excited to not only support LJ, but to be in an environment where we could engage with other families who utilize AAC. LJ has been an emphatic participant ever since!”


LJ SeiffCamp Chatterbox is a one-week overnight camp for children and young adults, ages 5-22, who use synthesized Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices, such as eye gaze accessible speech generating devices, tablets with communication applications, etc. All campers participate in a range of social, recreational, and educational activities led by licensed and qualified professionals, to promote use of their communication systems and interact with other children.

“It’s always been fun, and fun is a big motivator,” shares Jenn. “For all of us, it can be hard work to constantly evolve with assistive technology. When we’re at camp for the week, we have the opportunity to learn and practice skills and it doesn’t feel like hard work; it just happens organically and is fun.”

LJ SeiffJenn continues on to share that so much learning is done by playing, having fun and doing different types of activities that help build expressive language and critical thinking skills. “I’ve seen so much growth in LJ’s communication skills, social skills, confidence and independence, and that translates to other families, as well. It’s a wonderful supportive community.”

LJ looks forward to camp every year, especially the talent show and the recreational activities like swimming. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Jenn shares that in spite of everything the team still put on a wonderful virtual camp experience for campers and their families. “I was very impressed,” shares Jenn. “Everyone was active on virtual sessions and we would send in photos and have sing-along activities. The team made the best of an unknown situation in a creative way.”


LJ SeiffJenn and LJ are both looking forward to hopefully joining Camp Chatterbox again in person this year. Not only is the camp a fun learning experience, it has also helped the Seiff family foster a special community of life-long friendships and support. “It’s so helpful to have those people that can help troubleshoot problems you may be facing as a family in home or in school,” shares Jenn. “Being able to turn to someone who is in a similar situation as you to discuss topics like mobility or positioning is incredible. Several of the families and parents stay in touch and visit from time to time outside of camp. It’s been wonderful to make new friends who ‘get it’ and who are knowledge and can share experiences.”

For any families thinking of joining Camp Chatterbox, Jenn says to just embrace everything this camp has to offer and lean on those who have been involved with the camp. “The staff has been great. I really want to commend them,” says Jenn. “They’re so skillful and knowledgeable and have made camp such a fun experience over the years.” She also shares the ability to establish rapport with other families in this camp environment can help those who may be new to AAC be put at ease. “Be open and do not worry about how you’re going to look to someone else,” says Jenn. “Being in this camp family is going to help everyone in your family.”