Why a Listening Only Approach is Not Good Enough?

February 7, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


Why a Listening Approach is Not Good Enough

Not only is a Speech Only Approach not good enough, but a Listening Approach is also not good enough… Because even though a young man I know can follow simple directions with contextual cues and  his educators ‘feel’ he does not need any additional support, it does not help the young man when he should be doing the task independently.  . Because even though a bakery employee I know is usally fine (just a little nervous??) when his job coach explains changes in other employees attendance at work,  he sometimes gets so upset he has to leave his job… Because a little girl asks every day (many, many times) to go to Disney World even though her parents and teachers have told her they always go over the summer.  And because she now has a formal  behavior plan to help her stop perseverating on questions, and becasue this means she... [Read More...]

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5 Reasons Why A ‘Speech-Only’ Approach Isn’t Good Enough

February 6, 2012 by - 7 Comments


5 Reasons Why A 'Speech-Only' Approach Isn’t Good Enough

I’m trying to learn to see the good in all things, even when it is not immediately apparent. Lucky for me, the universe just keeps tossing me opportunities to practice my emerging skill in this area.   – Case in point: A phone conversation with an SLP serving a kindergarten child with developmental disabilities. “We’re working on speech right now, especially oral motor exercises. He can almost extend his tongue past his lips. And in the last year he’s been vocalizing a little louder. Oh, and Mom heard him say ‘Pa’ in the car last week, too! I wish progress were faster but he’s come a long way.” – No mention of the fact that he has an expressive vocabulary of, um. ZERO. – No consideration that if we continue with this current rate of learning, he’ll be able to say hist first three-word sentence at about the same time... [Read More...]

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Magic Moments: AAC Intervention with Apps You Love – Disneyland Explorer

February 5, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


Magic Moments: AAC Intervention with Apps You Love - Disneyland Explorer

Disney’s free app, Disneyland Explorer, is literally a walk in the park.  We love the quality of the graphics, which are incredibly vivid and reminiscent of the old ViewMaster toy. The app is simple-just some views of Disneyland but because many of our kids have such intense memories of the Florida version of this theme park, it’s a natural for language therapy. Not everyone is lucky enough to live near a Disney park, but even so, there  are lots of fun things to explore on this app.Take a peek at a video of the app here and you’ll see what we mean.There are lots of clinical/educational uses for this app, particularly for those kids we know whose lives are punctuated by trips to the Magic Kingdom. Here are some suggestions for AAC users of various ability levels. = Magic Moments: AAC Intervention with Disneyland Explorer 1. Multiple opportunities for using AAC... [Read More...]

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On Not Being an Ostrich

February 4, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


On Not Being an Ostrich

Is anyone else totally floored by the stories of good people getting into bad situations that have been in the news lately?? While it can happen to anyone, it is probably true that people who use AAC face a number of safety risks that the rest of us don’t think much about. The people we work with may not have the vocabulary they need to talk about safety issues, report abuse, or even state objections/resistance in a forceful way. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The latest story to cross my inbox made me think of some of our AAC friends and what we, as SLPs and clinical educators, should be doing to provide support. The Canadian organization Augmentative Communication Community Partnerships, has some wonderful resources to help get us started. Among them is a set of communication displays, both text and picture-based, that can be useful to individuals with AAC needs.Originally... [Read More...]

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What Gets Lost

February 4, 2012 by - 2 Comments


What Gets Lost

Imagine having one key communication strategy and no one knew that it existed. This horrifying experience was documented in the book ‘I Raise My Eyes to Say Yes,’ the autobiography of Ruth Sienkiewicz-Mercer. For years, she effectively used eye gaze with her family to answer yes/no questions, but when Ruth was placed at a residential facility, things eventually changed. Staff turnover, something we’re all familiar with, was the culprit. With time, new staff came in and didn’t realize that Ruth communicated with her eyes. Ruth was silenced for years until someone noticed that her ‘eyes up’ movement wasn’t reflexive or random. She was talking, but no one was listening.  — While this was an extreme example, most AAC practitioners can recount their own stories of people whose AAC messages weren’t effectively translated once they moved to new settings. The transition to a new environment, where untrained partners may fail to recognize... [Read More...]

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5 Sources of AAC Inspiration

February 4, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


5 Sources of AAC Inspiration

inspiration /inspəˈrāSHən/ Noun; The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do somethingcreative. The quality of having been so stimulated, esp. when evident in something    We’re inspired by: Master clinicians, like Gail Van Tatenhove, John Costello, and Joan Bruno Clinically relevant research, like this work  from the AAC Group at Penn State Far-reaching projects, like the work done by Sarah Blackstone and others at the Patient Provider Communication group Supportive publishers, like Paul H. Brookes who keep cranking out top-notch AAC books like this one by Pat Mirenda and Teresa Iacono Groups that make cool things for kids and share them for free, llike Priory Woods

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Learning about AAC Strategies in the Community….

February 3, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


Visual Supports in the Community

How we integrated AAC strategies into a community event… The name of our website is PrAACtical AAC.  We continue to look for ways to make AAC strategies fit  praAACtically into ALL activities. We are extremely proud to be part of the Dan Marino Foundation WalkAbout Autism,  which is a large South Florida Community Event.  The Walkabout helps raise money services for individuals with autism and other developmental  disabilities and their families.  It also promotes a sense of community collaboration and awareness about autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities.  We are including this information about the WalkAbout not as a plea for money  (although read about the WalkAbout and donate if you are so inclined), but instead to tell you how we are incorporating AAC into community events. This past weekend was the 2nd WalkAbout Autism.  It was a truly amazing event and day! There was great music and bounce houses,... [Read More...]

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Speaking Up- Too Late?

January 23, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


AAC & The Art of the Unconventional Conversation, Carole’s post from Saturday, recounts a young girl who some people might have thought was not ready for AAC.  It reminds me a young man I know, Michael.   I met Michael when he was 14, after he was discharged from all of his communication intervention or I should say his speech-language therapy sessions. He was discharged at school because when he moved from his autism classroom in middle school to a high school classroom for children with varying exceptionalities, it was ‘felt’ that he did not need it anymore.  He had not made ‘progress’ in his speech and language goals, he did not talk, he did not consistently identify objects, and he did not essentially do a lot of things.  He was discharged from his private therapy as he was not making progress in a lot of goals there either.  Everyone... [Read More...]

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AAC & the Art of Unconventional Conversations

January 20, 2012 by - 3 Comments


AAC & the Art of Unconventional Conversations

There’s an art to having a conversation with someone who has significant communication challenges. One of my favorite experiences with this dates back to the 1980’s, when I was working with a preschooler who had Rett Syndrome. Julia was a beautiful little girl who lived with her (very young) mom and her grandma. Grandma watched Julia while mom was in school, and I spent a good amount of time visiting them in their modest home (a trailer) trying to earn their trust and figure out how to help Julia communicate better in school. – At home, as it turns out, she was communicating just fine, at least for the very basic things. A typical conversation between Julia and her grandma went like this. Julia paces around the coffee table, wringing her hands, rocking a bit, and staring at the carpet. She pauses in front of the TV and Grandma says... [Read More...]

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5 AAC Groups We Love

January 18, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


5 AAC Groups We Love

It’s great to have some places to turn to when we need answers to AAC questions, resources to share, and the like. Here are some of the AAC groups that we’ve been able to count on for support. 1. ACOLUG: An oldie but a goodie. Run by Diane Bryen and Tracy Rackenberger, this email list is primarily a venue for people who use AAC to connect with one another but, in the spirit of inclusion, keeps the list open to professionals and students as well. 2. ASHA SIG 12: We can always count on their quarterly publication, Perspectives on AAC, and the online AAC community for support and pertinent information. We miss their annual conference, though! 3. Communication Matters AAC Forum : The ISAAC UK Chapter runs this and it is chock full of helpful information. We love the search feature and the digest options. 4. PACT: Promoting Augmentative Communication... [Read More...]

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