5 Little Things that Make a Big Difference in AAC Intervention

February 23, 2012 by - 2 Comments


5 Little Things that Make a Big Difference in AAC Intervention

“If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.” Betty Reese – Little things can make or break a good streak of AAC implementation. Here are some things that we’ve come to appreciate. They’re small in size, expense, or time demands but pay off in a big way. – 1. Wait time: There’s nothing like a 10-second expectant pause and controlled access to help someone learn to respond without more intrusive prompts. – 2. Clear plastic jars with screw-on lids (nothing beats these for limiting access so that kids are tempted to make a request) – 3. Button covers for the iPad, like these from BubCap. Amazing how a tiny piece of plastic can keep an activity or conversation from derailing. – 4. Bragging (authentically) about a colleague. “Ms. Mama, I have to tell you how awesome Polly Para was... [Read More...]

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5 Ways SLPs Can Support Friendships for People who Use AAC

February 22, 2012 by - 2 Comments


5 Ways SLPs Can Support Friendships for People who Use AAC

No feeling person could read Louise Kinross‘s post, My Child’s Dream: To Have Friends, without being moved. One of the most basic fervent wishes that all parents have is for their sons and daughters to make and keep friends. Disabled or not, parents fear loneliness for their kids, and rightfully so. Loneliness is a sharp and lasting pain.  And, in many cases, completely unnecessary. Kinross’s post, brought to my attention by Ellen Seidman of (Love that Max), inspired me to generate this list of things that we SLP’s can and should be doing to support kids and families. is 1. Make friendship skills a priority: Are there friendship goals in the IEP? There could be. If you’re thinking about working on a social skill, take a step back and see if it makes sense to focus more specifically on communication skills in the context of making and keeping friends. Educationally relevant?... [Read More...]

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Commenting to the Max!

February 21, 2012 by - 2 Comments


Commenting to the Max

Communication and language involves so much more than requesting.  Without much effort, communicators with typical language development and even delayed language development communicate for many  reasons.   Showing or telling about a shared interest comes easily and is a form of commenting to communicate.   Commenting is one of the most social reasons that we communicate.  So, it makes perfect sense that children with social communication disorders may not have an easy time with these social aspects of communication and language.  We know many children who frequently use long  (or short) sentences to say ‘I want the blue truck’, ‘I want the big ball’, or even ‘Can I have the cold drink’.  They may even communicate frequently to ask for toys, games, or activities of their choice. All of the requesting is GREAT but not enough to be part of comprehensive conversations and social language interactions.  It is not that children with... [Read More...]

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39 Free and Lite Versions of AAC Apps

February 21, 2012 by - 5 Comments


39 Free and Lite Versions of AAC Apps

The content of this post has been updated. Click HERE for the most current version that includes Android apps and a link to our AAC app rubric. Graduate student SLPs are a fairly diverse group, but one thing that is common to almost all of them is that they are on a very limited budget. Although many of the AAC apps are reasonably priced, even that can be a lot for a struggling student. We wanted to put together a list of the free or lite versions of AAC apps for them to explore on their own iDevices. First, a few caveats: 1. Selection of AAC tools is always made after a thorough assessment. This is as true for apps as it is for SGDs. 2. This list isn’t intended in any way to endorse these apps or suggest that the free/lite version is sufficient. Hopefully, it will give future professionals a taste... [Read More...]

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5 Ways to Help People With AAC Needs Develop Inner Speech

February 20, 2012 by - 4 Comments


5 Ways to Help People With AAC Needs Develop Inner Speech

Recent research has strengthened this clinician’s belief that developing inner speech is an important strategy for many people who use AAC and are working to build their literacy skills. But how do we teach someone to develop that inner voice? Here are some ideas. – 1. Begin by using a ‘think aloud’ strategy to make your internal thought processes obvious to the person who uses AAC. Articulating your thoughts as you work through different communication and literacy learning processes gives the learner insight into what you are thinking. Once they are used to that, it is easier to introduce the concept of private/inner speech. – 2. Use explicit instruction. “Say it to yourself.” “Say it in your head.” Using natural gestures, like tapping your temple, can be helpful as well. We’ve found that this allows us to reduce the prompting over time. Fade the verbal prompt and continue the gestural one,... [Read More...]

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HijAACked! Putting An AAC Twist on Gen Ed AACtivities: The Hallelujah Flight

February 19, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


HijAACked! Putting An AAC Twist on Gen Ed AACtivities: The Hallelujah Flight

This is the first in an occasional series of posts in which we take activities designed for students in general education and tweak them a bit to make them into opportunities for AAC teaching. We’ll be building on great ideas from clinicians, parents, and educators (giving credit where it is due, of course). – The first HijAACked activity is from the Classroom Magic blog by Selina Smith.  We chose this one because it gives us a chance to promote one of our favorite online book sources, We Give Books and share a wonderful book that supports Black History Month. We Give Books is a project of the Pearson Foundation and Penguin Books (you can find out more here). The Hallelujah Flight is the story of pilot James Banning and his good friend, mechanic Thomas Allen, flew cross country during the Great Depression. Written by former teacher Phil Bildner, this book... [Read More...]

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People are Similar Even if They Speak Different Languages

February 18, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


People are SImilar Even if They Speak Different Languages

We just had a conversation (one of many) about teaching someone how to  USE an AAC device.  A colleague who is learning about  AAC brought up the idea  that teaching AAC  was like  teaching someone a different language.  Thinking about that made us realize it was also like learning another language for both the communicator and the communication partner.   In fact was not ‘like’ learning another language, it really WAS  another language.  It may be another form of English (for us, Spanish for others, Mandarin for others still)  but  for our students/clients, learning an AAC system is just like trying to learn a new language without ever going to the country that the language is spoken and very rarely hearing other people speak this new language.  People may also have trouble understanding this new language.  There are few opportunities for an AAC user to be fully immersed in AAC... [Read More...]

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PrAACtical Resources: AAC Symbols

February 18, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


PrAACtical Resources: AAC Symbols

  One of the first things that many SLPs ponder when doing an AAC assessment is about how language will be stored on an SGD, no-tech communication tool, visual support or AAC app. The issue is this: What symbols are best for this person’s communication aid? This is never an easy question to answer, but the proliferation of symbols used in visual supports, communication aids, SGDs, and AAC apps has made the process even more challenging. – There are several ways in which we go about answering that question, but that’s a post for another day. In this post, we want to share some of the most comprehensive sources for identifying your symbolic options. Here are some sites you may want to bookmark. – 1. A Guide to Selecting Pictures and Symbol Sets for Communication by Sally Millar 2. Comparison chart of AAC symbol sets and systems by Spectronics 3.... [Read More...]

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Advocate in Your Pocket: Free App to Support Inclusive Education

February 17, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


Advocate in Your Pocket: Free App to Support Inclusive Education

The thought of an IEP meeting fills many parents we know with dread and anxiety, particularly if they are in a district where inclusive education is not running very smoothly. Jillian, a very passionate and competent mom of a youngster who uses high tech AAC, was pretty blunt about it. “I’d rather have root canal,” she said, and the parents within earshot gave her a round of applause. — So when we came across an app that provides support to families in this process, we had to check it. Developed at the Syracuse University School of Education, iAdvocate is an app designed to share information that parents can use to support their request for inclusive education. It lists some of the common roadblocks that families sometimes encounter, such as: “Your child needs small group instruction with few distractions and that can only be provided in a separate classroom.” “Meeting your chid’s needs is... [Read More...]

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Magic Moments: AAC Intervention with Stop and Go App

February 17, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


Magic Moments: AAC Intervention with Stop and Go app

We’re always looking for engaging ways to give our preschool children practice with their core word vocabulary. Stop and Go by ShortStack is an app that will get your little friends using core language without even realizing how much practice they are getting. — We love the simple structure of the app, which shows vehicles stopped at a traffic light. We see and hear the name of the vehicle and then press the green light for the vehicle to go. It has an English or a Spanish option and lots of interactive elements to try and then talk about. — Magic Moments with Stop and Go 1. Core Word Practice: As expected, there are tons of opportunities for the child to move the vehicles in this app. Using the strategy of controlled access, we can elicit ‘stop’ and ‘go’ multiple times in this game. 2. More Core Word Practice –... [Read More...]

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