Speak Out: Conference Favorites

January 16, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


Just returned from the 19th Annual Statewide Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) Conference (under full disclosure, I am the Director of the CARD Grant at NSU).  It was a very busy long weekend that began with a free pre-conference educators day and ended with one of  the  47 session options. I have tweeted some educational highlights that included a keynote by Dr. Amy Wetherby about the new  DSM 5  (thats right no more Roman Numeral) diagnostic features for Autism Spectrum Disorder (that’s right again, no ‘s’ on the end) and a dinner party talk by Dr. Temple Grandin (wow!).  I  tend to look at conference information as a teaser… first information is highlighted and then I do a more in-depth review and analysis into specifics that are related to me. Quick Info on My  First 3 Favorite Topics/Resources The Learning Curve– resources that include interesting and interactive  materials for teachers of... [Read More...]

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Magic Moments: AAC Intervention with Apps You Love – Painting with Time

January 15, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


Magic Moments: AAC Intervention with Apps You Love - Painting with Time

Sean Sweeney, from Speech Techies, always has great ideas for free or low cost apps or web-based materials that have wonderful therapeutic potential. Recently, he posted about Painting with Time, a free app that you can read about here. It’s such a cool app that we decided to use it to launch our Magic Moments series. – Magic Moments is an occasional series that gives PrAACtical suggestions for therapy materials, apps, software, and websites that are easy for SLPs to access and use in their clinical work. We’ll focus on materials that many of us already own and use, as well as on free or nearly free materials. Sometimes the materials will be electronic, like iPad apps or software. Other times, we’ll go ‘old school’ and bring out some of our favorite therapy materials, like toys, games, photo albums, and more. The focus will be on using those materials to teach language... [Read More...]

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5 Ways to Support Multimodal Communicators

January 13, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


5 Ways to Support Multimodal Communicators

Like you, we are always looking at ways to take communication and language to the next level. We’re never really satisfied. Although we may be thrilled with things that our AAC friends are doing now, we can’t stop thinking about the next step. And often that involves helping communication partners facilitate the language learning process. When multimodal communicators interact, we try to react to solidify the language learning.  Here’s are some of the things that have helped communication partners we’ve worked with. We’re learning to REACT by responding, expanding, acting, commenting, and turn-taking.   1.   Respond to the Intent. What is the communicator trying to tell you? If you know what, then start doing it. If you’re not sure, take your best guess and start doing it.  For the emerging communicator, respond quickly. For the more established communicator, begin to respond quickly so they know that you ‘got’ the message,... [Read More...]

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5 Things To Do Before You Choose an AAC App: Take A GULP

January 11, 2012 by - 1 Comment


5 Things To Do Before You Choose an AAC App: Take A GULP

Thinking about getting an AAC app for someone you know with significant communication difficulties? There are some exciting options out there and more AAC apps are being released all the time. It’s easy to get caught up in the possibilities and click on the harmless little ‘buy’ button. We know. We’ve done it, too. And learned from it. So, next time you are thinking about buying an AAC app, stop for a second and take A GULP: Ask: What do I want the person to be able to do with this app? An app for generative language has very different specs than and app for choice-making. Get a comprehensive list of AAC apps, like this one from Spectronics, or consider a product like AAC Apps Assistant . Explore the product videos on iTunes, YouTube or at the vendor’s website. Use a feature match approach to assessment to ensure a good... [Read More...]

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Thanks to Elgar

January 9, 2012 by - 1 Comment


This website has been a product of passion, energy, and more than a lot of years of philosophy.  Carole and I work with different clinical populations a lot of the time however, our strategies and philosophies have always seemed to be very similar from the day we met when Carole worked with a young boy named Robert.  Carole single handedly showed me the power of AAC for pediatric clinical popultations.   It has been a journey, I hope of learning together and one that has made most days at the office exciting and productive. We have impacted many graduate student clinicians and families but still feel so many individuals with communication challenges are not given a fair chance at equal participation at school or in the community.  We have the AAC philosophy and continue to learn more with each person we meet.  But this project of getting the word out... [Read More...]

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Talking About Talking

January 8, 2012 by - 4 Comments


Talking About Talking

A colleague and I taught a workshop awhile back where there was an interesting sidebar conversation. A special educator was trying to convince an administrator that even though her student used a high tech speech generating device (SGD), she still needed the software to create other communication tools, like language boards and visual schedules. Having spent a great deal of money on AAC technology, the administrator was reluctant to commit additional funds for that authoring software. “She has a $5,000 device,” Sally Supervisor said. “Now you’re telling me you need special software to make things you can print out on paper?”The teacher’s point, of course, was a valid one. Children with AAC needs, like the rest of us, communicate in a variety of ways. In most cases, they need access to a variety of tools and the training to use them effectively. Just like we do.We gesture. We write with... [Read More...]

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Resolution #2 Behavioral Visual Supports

January 8, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


Resolution #2:  Get the word out that USING visual supports can help improve behavior: 5 Visual Supports to Make it Easy    (it’s more about what WE do – then compliance of the student) 1. Choice Boards                                     2. First- Then Board                                3. Stop/Go Signs 4. Border Tape 5. Break Card

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5 AAC & Tech Things We Do On Fridays

January 6, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


We usually have a somewhat lighter schedule on Friday so these are the fun AAC and Tech things we try and do: 1.   Check with Moms with Apps for Fridays free and discounted apps. We also check with http://techinspecialed.com  2.   Create or find a good visual support to USE over the weekend or the next week. We are trying out a new beta site called Symbly that allows you to create communication boards and other visual supports as well as copy or modify the Symbly community ‘public’ supports.   You do need an invitation to join the site, but when we requested one we got it very quickly.  For now this is a free site, but beta testing is scheduled to end January 28th and that may change. 3.   Add a book to your AAC library for yourself.  Consider  Practically Speaking: Language: Literacy, and Academic Development for Students with AAC Needs,... [Read More...]

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Something to Celebrate

January 6, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


Something to Celebrate

What better way to start a new year than by celebrating the achievement of something wonderful in the AAC world?  – Hats off to the growing popularity of Avaz, the first commercially available AAC device developed in India. Avaz was put through its paces at Vidya Sagar (formerly the Spastic Society of India) where students with cerebral palsy used the device and gave feedback to the developers. – Earlier this year, the MIT Technology Review recognized one of its primary developers, Ajit Narayanan of Invention Labs, in its prestigious TR35 List, which applauds 35 innovators under 35 years of age. The device is already in use in 9 schools and centers around India. There is currently at least one study looking at its effectiveness with children who have significant communication difficulties. – Congratulations to the team at Invention Labs. We know that you will continue to change many lives and look forward to seeing Avaz in... [Read More...]

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5 Quick Steps to Getting Started with the Unconventional Communicator

January 6, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


We know that ALL people communicate. However, when someone has  communication challenges,  their signals may not always be obvious or conventional.  Here is our Quick Step Guide to getting to know about someone’s specific communication.  Using these steps will help facilitate spontaneous communication and move communication along the continuum of conventionality and symbolism.   1.  Observe:   What are they doing that is potentially communicative?  Look for clues in behaviors.  Consider  proximity, persistence, expressions, repetition, intensity, or anything else that might expresses a message.  More ideas from the National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness. Great information that is applicable to a wide range of early communicators. Don’t rule this out until you’ve looked at it.   2. Interpret: What does that behavior mean? Think about what would they ‘say’ if there was no communication problem. It can be a positive message (‘I want that’, ‘oh come on pretty please’) or a negative message... [Read More...]

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