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5 Things to Tell Families Who Feel Unsuccessful with AAC

August 27, 2013 by - Leave your thoughts

5 Things to Tell Families Who Feel Unsuccessful with AAC

As readers of this blog know, we are sometimes awed and inspired by families of people with AAC needs. There are many who seem to know just what to do and make it a priority to implement AAC in their homes. It isn’t always smooth sailing, though, and we often rack our brains to find ways to support famiies who are struggling. Here are some prAACtical ideas of things to say when a family member is feeling unsuccessful. 1. “Take small bites: You don’t have to revolutionize your household to help your child/parent. Do what you can do, when you can do it. Small changes are more sustainable, anyway.”   2. “Starting over is better than giving up: Yes, you may have tried XYZ before but things are different now. Let’s give it another shot.” 3. “I won’t judge you. ” Say it and mean it. 4. “You’re not alone.”... [Read More...]

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5 Things to Consider About Assigning ‘Homework’ for Your AAC Clients

July 25, 2013 by - 2 Comments

5 Things to Consider About Assigning ‘Homework’ for Your AAC Clients

Practicing skills outside of therapy is a good way to extend the learning process and generalize skills to functional environments. It isn’t appropriate for every situation, but when it is, here are some things we try to think about. 1. It should focus on skills they have, not ones they need to learn. Why? Because when we’re learning new things, we get it wrong fairly often. And we don’t want to give them practice getting it wrong. Instead, the home practice should be on things they know and can do, but don’t do consistently. Home practice is a great way to build fluency and automaticity. 2. Tie it into the client’s interests. Use materials or topics that they enjoy. 3. Teach it. Resist the temptation to quickly go over the home practice in the last 60 seconds of therapy or in the waiting room. We’ve all done it, but strive... [Read More...]

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PrAACtical Questions: Can Students Take Their AAC Devices Home?

July 2, 2013 by - 13 Comments

PrAACtical Questions: Can Students Take Their AAC Devices Home?

Yes. Although this question was settled definitively in 1991 by US Special Education Programs former director Judith Schrag, there are still some misinformed professionals saying otherwise. In most cases, administrators cannot limit AAC device use to school grounds only. As long as the team agrees that the student needs to be able to communicate throughout the day, then the AAC device can go home in the afternoon, on weekends, on holiday breaks, and during the summer. The “Schrag Letter” (OSEP, November 27, 1991) asserted that “if the IEP team determines that a particular assistive technology item is required for home use in order for a particular child to be provided Free Appropriate Public Education, the technology must be provided to implement the IEP.” There may be an IEP team out there somewhere who feels that a student only needs to communicate during the 6-hour school day, but we haven’t met... [Read More...]

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Pillow Talk: Mounting iPads/Tablets for Use in Bed

November 25, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts

Pillow Talk: Mounting iPads/Tablets for Use in Bed

We communicate whenever we’re awake, but sometimes it takes some creativity to find ways to provide AAC access when communicators are not in their main seating systems. It’s always a challenge to figure out mounting strategies so that communication options, whether they are no tech, low tech, or high tech, are always available. This video from the INDATA Project demonstrates an iPad/tablet mount from Charger City that can be used in bed. How cool would it be to use the iPad or Tablet for: Interacting while reading bedtime stories Having a little conversation about the day using the picture schedule app Saying prayers or talking about dreams Watching and listening to some meditation music/images Going over the schedule for the next day Independently reading a book before bed Pleading for ‘just one more’ story, kiss, song, or drink of water We’d love to hear your ideas on other ways to... [Read More...]

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Simple Start: Visual Supports for Places We Go

November 9, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts

Simple Start: Visual Support for Places We Go

No matter where they work, SLPs supporting people who use AAC generally do what they can to improve communication across environments. In an earlier Simple Start post, we talked about using photos of places within a school to support language comprehension. By showing a picture of the cafeteria or gym as we say those words, we can help both students with language processing difficulties and those with behavior regulation issues. — In this post, we extend the same concept to travels in and around the community. Here are directions for making visual supports that can be used with students who have community-based instruction or by families as they go about their weekly errands and routines. Simple Start: Visual Support for Places in the Community Take photo of locations in the community that the AAC user is likely to visit. Insert them into a document and add labels for each one... [Read More...]

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Creative Uses of the iPod for Students Who Use AAC

October 14, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts

Creative Uses of the iPod for Students Who Use AAC

Just when we think we’ve ‘seen it all,’ along comes another set of ideas for how to use technology to support kids with limited communication skills. In this week’s video, we peek in at what’s going on at the Special School District of Saint Louis County. Hats off to this team of creative professionals for getting the most out of their iPods! We love how their ideas save time for the teacher, enhance student learning, and extend communication to the home. Looks like a win-win-win situation for the classroom, family, and student.

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Communicating About Communicating

September 3, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts

Communicating about Communicating

Last week I was talking to a bright, young professional who is starting her second year as a school-based SLP. She has a caseload of 60+ students, including a class of students who have significant communication impairments. When the conversation turned to building a support system for her students who use AAC, we talked about strategies for keeping all of the stakeholders in the loop.  Here are some of the the things we touched on.

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Beyond ‘Good’ and ‘Nothing’

August 27, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts

Beyond 'Good' and 'Nothing'

  “How was school?” (Good) “What did you do?” (Nothing) This scenario plays out in many cars and kitchens in the after school hours and it can be hard to know who is more frustrated: the kids for being asked or the parents for not getting satisfactory answers. And still, we repeat the process day after day. Of course, we want to know the fine details of what happened and how our children felt, but in some cases, we’d settle for ANY school-related conversation at all. I’ll be the first to admit that it took me way too long to get the hang of how to get information about my children’s school days, and it seemed like just when I did, pow! They were pre-teens and then teenagers. New rule book. Here are some ‘lessons learned’ along the way about those afterschool conversations and some suggestions for parents of the kids... [Read More...]

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Video of the Week: F is for Feedback

June 17, 2012 by - 1 Comment

"Call Me Later:" 5 Supports for Phone Communication by People Who Use AAC

This week, we’ve been talking about feedback as a language facilitation strategy and when I came across this video of a mom interacting with her deaf or hard of hearing daughter, I knew it was worth sharing. What I love about this video is how consistently the mom both provides good models and responds contingently to her daughter’s utterances. Watch how she skillfully avoids over-interpreting the little girl’s message and how effective that is in getting her daughter to use more complex language. I wonder if she ever considered a career as an SLP… –

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The Precious Power of Play

April 12, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts

The Precious Power of Play

The Chicago P.L.A.Y. Project is on a mission to empower parents to help their children build language through play. We love the joyful nature of their mission. – Of course, the clinical educators in us see huge potential for adding visual supports to enhance the language learning, but this is an amazing way to build good interaction and language opportunities. – Enjoy!    

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