How I Do It: Digital Connections With Families to Support AAC Users
Staying connected with families is such an important aspect of being an effective AAC interventionist. In today’s post, we have a return visit from SLP Sarah Gregory, who shares the things that she is doing to maintain these connections as we learn to do this work from afar.
Digital Connections With Families to Support AAC Users
I hope this blog post finds everyone well! The COVID-19 virus has created an uncertain and unprecedented time for us all, but I have gotten so much comfort from the generosity and resource sharing in our AAC SLP community this week. As we get creative in supporting our AAC users remotely, the app SeeSaw has been a key to connecting with my students and families (I am not affiliated with this app in any way). I have used this free app to create a loop between home and school for about two years, but I am finding it even more valuable as we temporarily transition to remote learning.
We all understand the importance of family/caregiver engagement with AAC learning and now that connection seems more important than ever. As an SLP I don’t utilize all of the features of the app, so I will provide the basic features that help me make connections at home. I often provide video examples for home carryover or general tips/tricks/resources. This week I have used SeeSaw to share resources such as this YouTube video by Emily Diaz on modeling AAC at home and Kim Rankin’s blog where she shares tips for AAC use at home. With SO many resources being shared at this time I’m hoping to filter some of the information and keep suggestions manageable for families during this already stressful time. As we transition to remote learning I plan to continue to use SeeSaw to provide strategies personalized to each student’s goals. For example, I am using the Year of Core Words to select core word targets and Rachael Langley’s calendars to send activities home to families. I can also record quick videos to say “hi” to my students and model the core word with a book or song. I have been finding great modeling videos from @aac_slps_socal on Instagram and they recently made a YouTube channel so I will be able to link those for caregivers on SeeSaw. In addition to these resources, I am continuing to find inspiration from other AAC SLP social media accounts.
When school is in session I take videos of how I am modeling AAC during activities in the classroom. For example, playing with cars and modeling the word “go.” This has been a great way to highlight for caregivers the concepts of modeling, core words and integrating AAC into everyday activities. It’s not all business; sometimes I capture a sweet moment between friends, a cool art project or share a student’s favorite brand of ranch dressing so that he will eat more vegetables at home!
Another bonus: I have gotten great feedback from caregivers about our communication via SeeSaw. It is easy for me to do in the moment, so I end up communicating more. Students like when I tell them I am sending a video home and also enjoy watching them when they get home. It creates such a powerful bridge between home and school, that I feel is time efficient and manageable. And as we all begin to go digital I have been relieved that I already have a system in place.
Wondering how to get started? Use this link to sign up for free. I created a classroom and called it “speech-language therapy” so that it would be seperate from student’s other classes if your school utilizes this app. Once you are logged in, add your students/clients’ names. To connect families, let them know to download the free app. Access the website on a computer, click “+Families” and enter parents’ email or phone number. Families will be able to sign up and connect to posts about their children. In settings toggle off “students can see each other’s work” to ensure privacy. If you want to dig deeper, the SeeSaw website has professional development.
I add photos/videos by selecting “post student work” and it creates a feed for caregivers on their device (similar to Instagram or Twitter). You have the option to take a picture/video within the app so that I don’t have to save anything to your device. You can also upload something from your device, share a link or a note.
I like that the SeeSaw app is a balance between formal reporting and informal communication such as a text message. It gives me a platform and structure to share information and it allows for back and forth communication between professionals and home. Now more than ever it feels like we need personal connections with one another, even if it is just to compare brands of ranch dressing. Take care and be well!
Biographical sketch: Sarah Gregory, M.S. CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Assistive Technology consultant in the Ithaca City School District in Upstate New York. She specializes in Augmentative and Alternative Communication in a public school setting with a focus on inclusion. She received a bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College, a master’s degree from The University of Rhode Island and an Assistive Technology Specialist certificate from The University of California at Dominguez Hills. Sarah has presented on AAC and inclusion at ASHA, #TalkingAAC and AAC in The Cloud. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter/Instagram @SGregorySLP.
This post was written by Carole Zangari