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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Big Ideas on AAC Systems

January 14, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


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

I had some great conversations with families this month about AAC and how to effectively translate strategies from therapy and school to a home environment. Although their children were all different ages, had various disabilities, and used a diverse set of AAC tools, there were a couple of common elements in those conversations.One thing that played a central role was this question: What IS an AAC system? We all know the textbook definition of AAC and that it refers to a set of tools, techniques, and strategies used to enhance the communication of people with significant language difficulties. We know that AAC is often subdivided into unaided communication (including gestures, signs, movement, vocalization, etc) and aided communication (such as communication books, speech generating devices [SGDs], and choice boards).But the general case is only helpful if you’re in AAC class or studying for the PRAXIS. In clinical practice, we need to... [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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First strategy!

January 4, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


Welcome to the PrAACtical AAC Strategy Series! Each month we hope to focus on a new topic related to AAC intervention. Over time, we plan to cover the things that we’ve found to be important in our work with scores of graduate student SLPs and families. We’ll try to do a post each Saturday with information on that AAC topic.  Early on, we’ll focus on some of the AAC basics and then progress into more strategies. Throughout the week, we’ll try to tie in some of our other posts to the monthly strategy when that seems  to make sense. Look for info, anecdotes and links designed to flesh things out and extend the conversation a bit. Speaking of intervention, here’s something we’ve noticed: Information about communication strategies is sometimes written for a narrow audience, but has broader applicability. Try to keep an open mind and check out the links to sites, articles, and... [Read More...]

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