AAC & Change: Some Thoughts on Influencing Behavior

October 13, 2012 by - 2 Comments

AAC & Change: Some Thoughts on Influencing Behavior
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As SLPs who do the work of AAC, we all play many roles. We’re therapists and educators. We counsel and coach. We make materials, troubleshoot technology, take data, and write documentation. We advocate for the individual, institution, and society.

A common thread that runs through many of these roles is this: Very often, we want people to change their behavior. We may want them to implement a strategy, use different materials, provide more services, agree to a decision, fund a communication device, learn more about what they’re doing, or something else. But we are trying to influence others to change.

It is taking us (Robin and Carole) a lifetime to figure out how best to do this. Like you, we face it practically everyday. Each week, we cross paths with a few people who have bad information about AAC, or not enough information, negative attitudes, indifference, or apathy. We try to influence their behavior for the benefit of the person who uses AAC. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we don’t, but we always try.

What we started to do rather late in the game is to learn more about the science of change. It turns out that this is a pretty interesting field. There is also a ton of information about that in the popular media and, of course, online. Here are some things we’re reading on the subject that have helped us see things from a different perspective. Some of them are pretty simplistic and all were written for a corporate audience, but we got something helpful from each one. Ready for a bit of light reading?

  1. How Good Are Your Change Management Skills?
  2. How to Help People Accept Change
  3. How to Get Employees to Accept Change

Lastly, here’s a true confession: Sometimes it’s ME who is resistant to change.

  1. 10 Tips on Managing Change
  2. How to Step Up to Change: Coping Mechanisms For Those Who Are Resistant (not very meaty, but I loved the title of the blog: When Life Gives You Lemons, Add Vodka)

How about you? What’s working for you in your journey to influence others to accept AAC? We’d love to know.

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This post was written by Carole Zangari


  • Jane Farrall says:

    Great post Carole – thanks so much! Change is such a complex thing!!

    This reminded me of a school I worked with – who wanted to change their AAC practice. It didn’t happen no matter what I did – and I felt really discouraged. Lovely people – but it seemed that the AAC only came out of the cupboards when I was in the school. There wasn’t any negativity or reluctance – it just didn’t happen despite the fact that majority of them wanted to!

    Then I started working with them on literacy – and very quickly we saw lots of changes both in literacy and in AAC. Many of the suggestions I had made the previous year around AAC suddenly started happening. So – did more change actually produce change? Or did the first piece of change just take a long time to happen? I wish I knew – but I’m just very happy with the result!!


    • Avatar photo Carole Zangari says:

      That’s such a great story, Jane. It is a good reminder to me that there is more than one way to approach something, and trying a different avenue is sometimes the best thing to do. I think the same thing happens sometimes with AAC tools. Occasionally teams, families, or kids don’t get excited about one AAC tool, but may really get energized by another. Glad there was a happy ending to the AAC Story at that school!

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