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Low-Tech AAC Options and Practical Strategies for Classroom Use

Low-Tech AAC Options and Practical Strategies for Classroom Use
September 3, 2013

 This transcript is a text-based course of the seminar, “Low-Tech AAC Options and Practical Strategies for Classroom Use” presented by Kristi Murphy, M.A., CCC-SLP.  >> Kristi Murphy:  It looks like most of those in our audience today are speech pathologists.  We are going to be talking today about low-tech AAC options and practical strategies for use in the classroom.  I am curious.  When you think about yourself and how often you use augmentative communication strategies or your familiarity, how many of you would consider yourself beginners when it comes to augmentative communication?  Probably about 10 of you or so.  How about intermediate or moderately familiar with augmentative communication?  It looks like we have several that are familiar with it, but perhaps not advanced.  Do any of you consider yourselves more advanced or more of an expert in the area of augmentative communication, in that you use it a lot in your law in your work.   I have worked with augmentative communication my whole career since graduating from college; that was what I knew I wanted to do.  I came from more of a private practice/clinical setting and for the last five years have been in the school system. So I have experience in both areas, which I think has made it really nice for me to understand what is expected when SLPs are making recommendations for school speech pathologists, as well as what it is like to be the school speech pathologist getting those recommendations now.  I have experience in both areas which I think has really helped me have a better grasp on what is practical and what can be expected as you go through your day.   Definition of AAC(Augmentative and Alternative Communication)I want to start with an overall definition of augmentative communication for those of you who may not be as familiar.  ASHA refers to AAC as an “area of research, clinical, and educational practice which involves attempts to study and when necessary compensate for either temporary or permanent impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions of individuals with severe disorders of speech language production and/or comprehension, including spoken and written modes of communication.”  It also includes special devices and methods of communication which will enhance and provide alternatives for spoken language.  That is the overall formal definition.   Benefits of Augmentative Communication (AAC)When we talk about AAC, we talk about what the benefits of augmentative communication can be.  They can enhance expressive and receptive language development and increase literacy skills. One of the things I hear the most in my IEP meetings is that there are behavior concerns, and the majority of the team, most of the time feels that the behavior is a result of a lack of communication on the part of the individual or the student.  Hopefully introducing some sort of communication system may reduce frustration and decrease behavior.  AAC promotes personal empowerment as it allows individuals to control their environment and it can increase self-confidence and self-esteem.  Those are some of the benefits to augmentative communication.   Here is a quote and I have looked and looked for where it came from and cannot find the source; but I think that it speaks highly of the use of augmentative communication.  It says “one of the most essential factors in successful use of any AAC device, high-tech or low-tech, is a respect and value for the form of communication that is being utilized.  If the culture of the group does not value the AAC, then the likelihood of success and functional use would be extremely limited.”  I have found that to be so true.  If you do not have a team that believes in it - a family and individual - that believes in it, the success is likely not going to be there.   Learner OutcomesFollowing this course, I would like you to be able to:• identify three benefits of augmentative communication; which we have just talked about, • identify three low-tech communication options that can be used with students with disabilities.  I say students, but we are talking about probably every age level.  • identify three strategies for using these low-tech options in the classroom • identify three benefits of collaborating with families and other professionals when working with students.  How many of you are in the schools right now?  How about private practice, clinical setting, or hospital setting?   We have a split audience, which I think is nice.  Having been on both sides of it, we will talk about expectations, what happens in the classroom, and maybe mention how that can be different from a clinical setting as well, when we talk about how we can incorporate the strategies.   Considerations for Using AACThings to consider when you are looking at augmentative communication, you need to look at:• levels of expressive, receptive, and pragmatic language• cognitive skills• literacy skills as you get into higher-level augmentative communication devices; specifically word prediction, abbreviation, and expansion. (However those tools can be utilized with low-tech options as well.)• the ability to recognize symbolic language; can they recognize photographs and picture symbols; can they categorize; can they use a multi-meaning icon system like Minspeak• background history, if they have had AAC options before; what kind of support they have, not only with their family, but also with their school and their team; • how motivated they are to use the device • level of support that is available for them.  • level of physical functioning - this is where it becomes very important for you to utilize the resources you have available through your physical therapist, occupational therapist, or vision specialists.  All of those people play a very important part when you start talking about children who have some level of physical involvement.  • The progressive nature of the disability and whether or not this is a system that needs to grow with them, because their level of functioning is going to change; not just in terms of making progress as they become better using the device, but whether or not there is going to...

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