PrAACtical Supports for AAC Learners: AT Recipes for Success – Sensorimotor Activities
It’s time to resume our PrAACtical Supports series, highlighting handout materials developed by Sara Barnhill and the AT team at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR). Sara is an SLP who has has worked at CHoR for six+ years. She is a member of the Assistive Technology Core team and VCU’s Center for Craniofacial Care team. Her caseload includes patients in clinics, outpatient therapy, and on the Transitional Care Unit which provides pediatric long-term care. The CHoR AT Program is one of few comprehensive AT programs in Central Virginia, providing AT evaluations, equipment and training to people of all ages, enabling children and adults with disabilities to function more independently. CHoR’s AT team consists of 4 SLPs, 2 OTs, a PT, and a Therapy Practice Assistant. In addition to completing transdiciplinary evaluations and treatments, CHoR’s AT team is responsible for supporting staff and sharing AT information to five CHoR therapy centers throughout Central Virginia.
In this post, Sara talks about collaborating with colleagues in other disciplines to design and implement sensorimotor activities for AAC therapy and for carryover at home. Interested in using these with your own clients? You’re in luck! Sara and the AT Team at CHoR graciously share their parent handouts with information for how families can implement these fun and prAACtical activities.
One of the things I love most about AAC therapy is the constant “aha” moments that challenge me to become a better, more well-rounded therapist. As a Clinical Fellow I was drawn to preschoolers with whom I could sit at a table with a precise schedule and complete a craft. As my caseload became heavier with AAC patients I began to re-evaluate my approach to therapy. Sitting at a table with a schedule and craft was not how language worked and it was not how families’ home lives worked. I realized that language didn’t develop in a bubble and communication couldn’t grow based on my schedules. If I wanted to really help my patients and their families I needed to rethink my methods. I needed activities that were motivating and fun (for the child, not for me…).
Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU’s team of SLPs and OTs have worked to create supports that address a variety of learning styles for both staff and caregivers to assist in AAC implementation and increase carryover; one such support is the “Recipes for Success” program. Many of our “Recipes” are based on common toys and activities; however, numerous caregivers report that their child “only likes the swing/bouncing/etc.” Another important “aha” moment that our whole team has experienced is the amazing power of movement and sensory input. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear (or pull) a wagon ride targeting TURN, GO, STOP, etc.
We worked with our OTs to find sensorimotor activities that would capitalize on engaging movement activities into which we could integrate core vocabulary. The result was “Recipes for Success” for powered mobility, shaving cream, and a large therapy ball to name a few. Not only are these activities fun and motivating, a lot of the time they help with general arousal and modulation which can elicit optimal engagement and attention.
Throughout our many “AAC epiphanies,” our team has radically shifted our approach to education and support in order to give voices to our patients during activities that they want to talk about. We have had great feedback from caregivers and staff and are excited to share resources with the PrAACtical AAC community! Recipes for sensorimotor activities are attached to this post. Stay tuned for future CHoR posts and recipes for use with older communicators and to use in shared book reading. Have fun talking and bouncing!
You can download copies of these AT Recipes for Success here. Looking for more? Check out the previous posts by this wonderful team. If you’ve tried some of their suggestions or used some of the CHoR AT Team handouts, please let us know. We’d love to hear about your experiences.
This post was written by Carole Zangari