Reducing Prompt Dependence in AAC Learners: 5 Things to Try

January 26, 2017 by - Leave your thoughts


Reducing Prompt Dependence in AAC Learners: 5 Things to Try

“He knows what to do. He just doesn’t do it.” “He’s prompt-dependent. How can I get him to use AAC on his own?” “I love his strong-willed nature, but it works against him sometimes. He doesn’t initiate.” If any of these remarks sound familiar, it may be time to think about alternative approaches to build independent communication. Here are a few things to try with AAC users who’ve learned to wait for support before communicating. Exaggerate the pause time: Many of our AAC learners need at least 5 seconds of pause time after a communication opportunity presents itself. This helps them process the experience, organize their thoughts, decide on a response, and then begin to execute that response. Sometimes, though, we work with people who’ve learned that if they just wait, the communication partner will start to help (whether or not they need it). We can sometimes nudge the learner... [Read More...]

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AAC Mythology v2.0: A Few Misconceptions About AAC Intervention

January 23, 2017 by - 3 Comments


AAC Mythology v2.0: A Few Misconceptions About AAC Intervention

The good news is this: A growing number of people with complex communication needs are getting access to AAC. Educators whose students had AAC only at circle and snack time are now using it more consistently with their students throughout the day and teaching lessons specifically designed to build skills with AAC systems. SLPs who had eschewed AAC or who had focused their AAC efforts on choicemaking, requesting, and labeling are now embracing their role as language specialists and teaching a fuller array of semantic, morphological, and syntactic skills to AAC learners. AT specialists who had been doling out the same few SGDs and AAC apps are now digging deeper and using established practices for AT selection in supporting minimally verbal and nonverbal students. Behaviorists who had previously focused primarily on receptive identification and verbal imitation are supporting the expressive needs of their clients in new ways. Families who had little... [Read More...]

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PrAACtical Resources: Developing Touchscreen, Switch and Eye Gaze Skills

January 19, 2017 by - Leave your thoughts


PrAACtical Resources: Developing Touchscreen, Switch and Eye Gaze Skills

As a speech-language pathologist, most of my attention goes to strategies for building language and communication, but there is, of course, much more to AAC. The Independent Living Centre Western Australia (ILC)  has a wonderful set of resources that focus on the operational aspects of AAC, a critical area for many individuals with complex communication needs. This is a great site to check out for ‘how-to’ information on how to help AAC users develop skills with direct selection (eye gaze, touch screen) and scanning. Many thanks to ILC and the Unlocking Abilities Project for making these available.  

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Core Values: Suggestions for Language Building with AAC Learners

January 16, 2017 by - Leave your thoughts


Core Values: Suggestions for Language Building with AAC Learners

Here in the US, we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr  on the third Monday of January. It presents, among other things, a wonderful opportunity to talk and teach about concepts like tolerance, fairness, dignity, respect, and peaceful protest. Many of our AAC learners have a deeper understanding of these concepts than we will ever realize but they lack the language skills to discuss them in the same ways as their speaking peers do. Today, we share some ideas for continuing the conversation about these issues to help our AAC learners continue to develop their language skills. You may already have books, videos, and other resources that are useful in teaching about the life of Dr. King and the values he fought for, but here are some previous posts with a few more suggestions. Martin Luther King, Jr Holiday: 5 Resources for AAC Learners AAC and Anti-bullying... [Read More...]

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Catching Up with National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities

January 12, 2017 by - 3 Comments


Catching Up with National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities

The NJC has been one of my go-to resources for many years, so I was delighted when Amy Goldman agreed to write an update on recent activities. Amy is one of my AAC heroes but you may know her best from her long career of advocacy with AAC and AT through professional organizations (e.g., ASHA, USSAAC, ATIA, PSHA, ATAP). Amy is now one of three technical assistance specialists with the national Assistive Technology Act Technical Assistance and Training Center (AT3). She recently retired from her position as Co-Executive Director of the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, PA’s University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities where she directed local, state, and federal projects related to assistive technology.  She is honored to represent ASHA on the National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities (NJC).  She and I co-chair the ATIA strand on AAC and hope to see many... [Read More...]

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PrAACtical Resources: Step-by-step Guide to Making a Tabbed Communication Book

January 9, 2017 by - Leave your thoughts


PrAACtical Resources: Step-by-step Guide to Making a Tabbed Communication Book

Sometimes it’s the little things that trip us up. A detail we missed, a corner we cut, or a small step we didn’t know about…Any of these can foul up an entire project (not too mention our mood!). That’s why appreciate clearly written guides like this one from Kate McCallum at Equality Time. Hope you find it helpful.   Note: Those outside the UK will need to adjust printing for their own paper sizes.

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AAC and Emergent Literacy: 5 Posts with Implementation Ideas

January 5, 2017 by - Leave your thoughts


AAC and Emergent Literacy: 5 Posts with Implementation Ideas

Looking to infuse additional activities to support the reading and writing development of the AAC learners with whom you work? Today, we’re revisiting some popular posts with helpful ideas and resources. Robust Literacy Instruction for People Who Use AAC A PrAACtical Literacy Activity for Beginning Communicators  Literacy Lessons for Beginning AAC Learner Infusing Literacy Learning Opportunities in AAC Therapies  Literacy for All: A Series of Videos by Dr. Caroline Musselwhite  Hope you find some useful tips and suggestions.

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PrAACtically January: AAC Resources for A Year of Core Words

January 2, 2017 by - 2 Comments


PrAACtically January: AAC Resources for A Year of Core Words

Happy 2017! As we welcome another prAACtical year, it’s time to start preparing the materials we’ll need to model and teach core words to our AAC learners. This is a great time to get the word cards and other materials for the Year of Words (Set 1/2013; Set 2/2014) ready to use with the AAC learners in our lives. Thanks to the generous spirit of PrAACtical AAC readers we have posts with a variety of resources: Minspeak/Unity version: Set 1/2013  PCS versions: Set 1/2013 , Set 2/2014 Speak for Yourself version: Set 2/2014 SymbolStix version: Set 1/2013 Lesson Pix: Set1/2013 Smarty Symbols: Set 1 words, Set 2 words CoughDrop: Set 1 words; Set 2 words WordPower: Set 1 words (Note: This is a large file that contains the resources for several versions of WordPower) Thanks to Brian Whitmer, Barbara Fernandes, Nancy Inman, Deborah Lesher, Beth Erwin, Bill and Lori Binko, Heidi LoStracco, Alison Wade,... [Read More...]

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PrAACtical Teaching in the ASD Classroom: Predictable Chart Writing with Core Vocabulary

December 29, 2016 by - Leave your thoughts


PrAACtical Teaching in the ASD Classroom

We are closing out the year with a bang by combining two of our favorite things: working on AAC and literacy. In this post, Michigan-based teachers Amy Devin and Lauren Pawlowski return to discuss their strategies for building communication skills in the context of writing activities. Enjoy their detailed descriptions of how they implement a 5-day writing sequence in their classrooms! :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Predictable Chart Writing with Core Vocabulary If writing with your students is something you are apprehensive about, then Predictable Chart writing is a good place to start. You get a lot of bang for your buck, as you can work on many different concepts as you are instructing through the week.  Some areas you will be able to work on is location and meaning of core, concepts about print, print awareness and fine motor skills. Prior to starting your Predictable Chart Writing, you have to have a plan on which... [Read More...]

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Holiday Photos in AAC Learning: 3 Ideas for Using Them to Build Language

December 28, 2016 by - 1 Comment


Holiday Photos in AAC Learning: 3 Ideas for Using Them to Build Language

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or some combination of holidays, these events offer rich opportunities for building language in people who use AAC. There’s a good chance that someone took photos which can be a terrific source of motivating materials. In this post, we’ll look at a few ideas for using those to strengthen language and communication skills. Collect them into a photo album: Use PowerPoint, Keynote, or an app to pull the photos together into a collection that can serve as a highly motivating context for language learning activities. With these albums we can: Page through them together to practice making comments (e.g., cold; I see tree, That is pretty), Co-create a narrative about the picture, Work on morphological goals such as pluralization and verb tenses, and, Build longer sentences (e.g., ‘hot chocolate’ becomes ‘drink hot chocolate’ or ‘make more hot chocolate’). Create a photo collage: Work with the... [Read More...]

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