UA-115456113-1 Talking With Tech AAC Podcast
Talking With Tech AAC Podcast
AAC After Work: Digital Storytelling to Foster Communication Partner Skills - Part 1

AAC After Work: Digital Storytelling to Foster Communication Partner Skills - Part 1

January 27, 2021

This week, we present the first half of Chris and Rachel’s previous webinar from the AAC after Work conference that focused on digital storytelling. This week’s portion provides an overview of AAC strategies, including expansion, core/fringe/personal core words, “stimming” on devices, using apps to support language, and more!

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel talk about how to deal with the awkwardness of taking a coaching approach with fellow clinicians who need help with AAC. Often, people expect a consulting approach where the “expert” solves their problem, but we know that a coaching approach utilizing reflective questions can help people come to conclusions on their own and they can have their own revelations. When other clinicians are asking for help, that can be really vulnerable and being asked questions might not be what they expect. We all need to remember to have a growth mindset - its more important to be able to learn new information and to know how to go and get it than it is to know every answer already. 

 

Key ideas this week: 

 

🔑 Expansion is all about taking language an AAC user has communicated and going up one more step. When teaching a child how to walk up the stairs, you don’t yell down at them from the top, you are next to them and showing them what is coming next. Similarly, with language, we want to meet an AAC user where they are at and go to the next level. For example, if they say “on” we can expand that and say “turn on” back to them.

 

🔑 Treat multiple button presses on a device ( aka “stimming”) with a “yes, and” approach like actors do in an improv comedy act. Interpret the button presses as something they meant to say on the device and expand upon that with them whenever possible. 

 

🔑 When using apps to support language, co-view the app together rather than just putting the app in front of the AAC user. Have them communicate what they want to see happen in the app to promote more communication, e.g., “what clothes do you want me to put on this character?”. 

 

ATIA - AT Connected will take place this year Jan 25-28th and Feb 1-4th. There will be more than 150 courses covering AAC, Assistive Technology, Education, and more. Registrations options include full conference, single strand, one day, and even a free option! Go to atia.org/talkingwithtech and enter registration code ATIAVISION21 for 20% off of the full registration! Also, don’t forget to check out Rachel & Chris virtual seminar at ATIA on Jan 30th and Feb 6th at bit.ly/TWTATIA21  

 

Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

 

Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

TWT Live: Access to Education Conference - Part 2

TWT Live: Access to Education Conference - Part 2

January 20, 2021

This week, we share Part 2 of the TWT Live from the Access to Education Conference with Chris and Rachel! In this TWT Live, there are lots of useful tips and tricks, including ideas for motivating communication partners to model AAC! 

 

Before the live session, Chris shares about working with a computer science supervisor in his school district to combine AAC with computer science in the classroom. Chris describes how they trained the instructional facilitators who work with teachers to teach core words and block coding together. Chris and Rachel discuss the importance of enthusiasm and why projects like this are so important to fuel you to move forward!

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 When trying to motivate teachers and staff to model more often, ask reflective questions and get insights into the struggles that she or he experiences with the AAC user. This can build rapport and lead to the brainstorming of ideas that have a better chance of being implemented.

 

🔑 Even if a student has moved from primarily being an AAC user to being more verbal, don’t take the device away from him or her automatically (if they still want to use it). That student can be a great peer communicator for other AAC users, and they may want to use AAC instead of verbal speech in some situations.

 

🔑 Don’t always assume that a student is “stimming” on a device when they’re pushing buttons seemingly at random. Sometimes there is communicative intent that we do not yet understand. If the student has true stim-like behaviors on a device, we can try and shope it to be more functional. We can also tell a social story to help them see how the stimming makes others feel.

 

ATIA - AT Connected will take place this year Jan 25-28th and Feb 1-4th. There will be more than 150 courses covering AAC, Assistive Technology, Education, and more. Registrations options include full conference, single strand, one day, and even a free option! Go to atia.org/talkingwithtech and enter registration code ATIAVISION21 for 20% off of the full registration! Also, don’t forget to check out Rachel & Chris virtual seminar at ATIA on Jan 30th and Feb 6th at bit.ly/TWTATIA21  

 

Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

 

Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

TWT Live: Access to Education Conference - Part1

TWT Live: Access to Education Conference - Part1

January 13, 2021

This week, we present part 1 of TWT Live: Access to Education Conference 2020! Before the TWT Live session, Chris and Rachel briefly discuss the importance of using captions, both as a tool to learn to read and to support people who are hard of hearing. There are many small tweaks we can make to make things more inclusive, such as enabling a feature on iPhones that allows captions to be turned on automatically when they are available. 

 

Key ideas shared this week:

 

🔑 If you start with PECS, are you considering what that person will use as an adult? PECS often isn’t a good long-term robust solution compared to something like a high-tech AAC device. Its OK to use many different kinds of AAC but you want a primary method of communication that is robust and can grow with the user.

 

🔑 Virtual learning is a great opportunity to coach family members and communication partners. Service providers can change every year but the family will often be a consistent source of communication and support for the user over the years. 

 

🔑 Look beyond your own discipline for professional development. There are trainings (e.g. cognitive coaching, difficult conversations) that apply to working with AAC but are not listed under the umbrella of education, speech pathology, or AAC. 

 

 

ATIA - AT Connected will take place this year Jan 25-28th and Feb 1-4th. There will be more than 150 courses covering AAC, Assistive Technology, Education, and more. Registrations options include full conference, single strand, one day, and even a free option! Go to atia.org/talkingwithtech and enter registration code ATIAVISION21 for 20% off of the full registration! Also, don’t forget to check out Rachel & Chris virtual seminar at ATIA on Jan 30th and Feb 6th at bit.ly/TWTATIA21  

 

Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

 

Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

Talking with Tech Year in Review 2020

Talking with Tech Year in Review 2020

January 6, 2021

This week, Chris and Rachel review highlights of the Talking with Tech podcast during 2020. They talk about which countries listened the most to the podcast, the ways the podcast grew in 2020, and a breakdown of the most downloaded episodes of the year and of all time!

Coaching Call w/ Michaela Ball: Supporting a Severely Apraxic Emergent Communicator (Part 2)

Coaching Call w/ Michaela Ball: Supporting a Severely Apraxic Emergent Communicator (Part 2)

December 16, 2020

This week, we continue with part 2 of Chris and Rachel’s coaching call with TWT’s Audio Engineer & SLP grad student, Michaela Ball! Michaela continues to discuss her severely apraxic student who is a multi-modal communicator with Rachel and Chris. They continue to explore the importance of picking a larger iPad when possible, ways to promote direct selection skills, choosing motivating vocabulary to start with, and how to train staff and communication partners.

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel discuss the “Pygmalion effect” and the ways that belief in someone can promote greater performance from that person. This includes the Rosenthal experiments in mice, in which mice who were labeled “intelligent” actually performed better. Experiments with students also indicate that belief in the student promotes better performance on average. This supports the idea that “presuming potential” can actually improve the performance of those we work with.

 

Key ideas this week: 

 

🔑 Visual supports help all students, especially early learners, Consider a classroom approach to aided language input so that everyone gets more practice with core words and how to use them.

 

🔑 Consider putting core words into other places like the playground. For example, you can laminate key rings or core boards and place them on the playground for any kid to use and engage with.

 

🔑 If teaching action words like “go”, instead of having adults model demands on the AAC user with that word, try having the AAC user make demands of others in a fun way, like in “red light, green light”. 

 

🔑 When an AAC user communicates in multiple modalities, whenever possible, avoid “double demands” by communication partners, e.g. saying it verbally and then on the device. It is better to accept what they said and model without expectation.

 

To get 20% off registration for the virtual conference ATIA 2021, go to ATIA.org/talkingwithtech and enter code ATIA21VISION (in all caps).  Chris and Rachel will teach virtual seminar Jan 30th and February 6th - check it out at bit.ly/twtatia2021! 

Coaching Call w/ Michaela Ball: Supporting a Severely Apraxic Emergent Communicator

Coaching Call w/ Michaela Ball: Supporting a Severely Apraxic Emergent Communicator

December 9, 2020

This week, we share a coaching call between Chris, Rachel, and our amazing Audio Engineer & SLP grad student, Michael Ball! Michaela asks the TWT team about a severely apraxic student she is working with who is a multi-modal communicator. With limited therapy time with this student, should Michaela focus more of her time on implementing a device, using sign language, or promoting verbal speech? How can she promote AAC best during the school day?

 

Before the interview, Rachel shares with Chris about a another apraxic student she recently consulted with. Rachel talks about her approach to the difficult conversations that occur when a family is wary of AAC and holding out hope for verbal speech without AAC. Chris poses the option of bringing in more experienced families of AAC users to talk with the new client's family about the benefits of AAC. Chris also brings up the argument that AAC can often be the “lest dangerous option”, especially when compared to doing nothing differently. 

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 When someone communicates in several different modalities, and we have to prioritize which modality to support, one good question to consider is “what modality will be most understood by unfamiliar listeners down the road?”

 

🔑 When we are choosing what word to target first when working with an AAC user, it can be helpful to choose a word that is both really motivating to them in particular and one that he or she will use in many different contexts. 

 

🔑 When choosing between an iPad mini or a full-sized iPad for AAC, it is important to consider the extra “real estate” that the full-sized iPad screen can give. More space often means for more symbols! It can also mean more space between the symbols, which can help students with fine motor challenges.

 

Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech

 

Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

Small Talks 4: Candice Steel, Chris Ramirez, Monique Madrid, Sarah Gregory, and TJ Haley

Small Talks 4: Candice Steel, Chris Ramirez, Monique Madrid, Sarah Gregory, and TJ Haley

December 3, 2020

This week, TWT presents four more short interviews, aka "small talks", covering a variety of topics related to AAC and Assistive Technology!

 

Before the interviews, Rachel talks about a contentious IEP she recently attended for a student she consults with.  Rachel had some ideas about supporting literacy that she shared with the team, but the team was resistant to Rachel’s input as an SLP and didn’t seem interested in changing any goals. Chris shares about a situation early in his career where he was told SLPs “don’t do reading” - but those same people couldn’t say who was responsible for helping the student succeed. Chris then connects this to ASHA’s perspective that reading falls under the scope of practice for SLPs. Rachel touches on some of the mistakes that are often made when teaching a minimally verbal student to read, presumably because teachers don’t know how to support a student’s reading effectively if he or she can’t read out loud. 

 

This week's Small Talks are:

 

🔑 Candice Steel, an SLP & AT specialist working for Gompers, a non-profit in AZ, talks about empowering paraprofessionals to support AAC. Her training focuses on concepts like core vocabulary, operational competence, evaluative feedback, and communication facilitation. You can email her to learn more at empoweringparas101@gmail.com.

 

🔑 Chris Ramirez & Monique Madrid are SLPAs who work with young children, AAC, and home health. Monique shares about being a parent of a child with autism and introducing AAC to her daughter. Chris talks about working with bilingual families and working with a supervisor who supervises SLPAs from out-of-state. 

 

🔑 Sarah Gregory, SLP and AAC specialist, talks about the benefits of using Seesaw and videos to connect with families and teachers. Sarah likes to take videos and share them with families, including videos of students (with permission) that she shares with families. With Seesaw you don’t have have everyone’s email address to be able to contact them instantly. 

 

🔑 TJ Haley - high school SLPA who discusses ways to engage students, including augmented reality. You can broadcast augmented reality for groups and classes using software that is often free and easy to use. He finds augmented reality is a great way to elicit expressive language. Sketch Fab and Jig Space are two apps he uses.

 

Do you have burning AAC questions for Chris and Rachel? Sign up for our Patreon at patreon.com/talkingwithtech and join our TWT Live show for Patreon members only on December 9th 7:30-8:30 pm Eastern Time (4:30-5:30 pm Pacfic)!

 

Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

TWT Live from New Jersey - Part 3

TWT Live from New Jersey - Part 3

November 26, 2020

This week, we present the final episode in our three part series of TWT Live from New Jersey! This week, Rachel, Chris, and the participants tackle user questions about using eye gaze during teletherapy, how to decide if social media is accessible, maintaining attention and motivation during virtual sessions, and the language-system-first approach to AAC. 

 

Before Part 3, Rachel and Chris get a tutorial on the popular video game Among Us! Rachel and Chris discuss how concepts from this game could be used to make therapy more fun and to work on vocabulary.

 

Key ideas this week: 

 

🔑 Consider incorporating sensory movement breaks into virtual therapy to make therapy sessions more engaging. You can also incorporate a direct therapy hybrid where you include some coaching for communication partners during the session.

 

🔑 Using less technology and more physical items , like a puppet or toy, during a teletherapy session can make a session more interesting for some students. Check out @thespeakbotique on Instagram for ideas. (https://www.instagram.com/thespeakboutique/)

 

🔑 Incorporating items from the child’s environment and helping parents participate in therapy can be more useful for generalization and motivation then engaging them with our therapy items.

 

Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

 

Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

TWT Live from New Jersey - Part 2

TWT Live from New Jersey - Part 2

November 18, 2020

This week, we share Part 2 of Chris and Rachel’s “crowd-sourced” TWT Live from New Jersey! To listen to part 1, click here (https://www.talkingwithtech.org/episodes/twt-live-nj-1) . In Part 2, they discuss coaching vs consulting, how to pursue a job as an AAC facilitator in a school district, and how to increase support for high-tech AAC devices among ABAs who would rather use PECS. 

 

Before Part 2 of TWT Live, Chris and Rachel talk about an independent evaluation Rachel recently did for a school district that ended up with a student who was a good candidate for high-tech AAC put on a 90-day trial to determine if the student was a good candidate for AAC. Rachel shares her fears that the student will not get enough training to show her capabilities, and that they won’t use the device in motivating ways. She notes how hard it can be to do an assessment without being able to work the with the student after that.

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 If you force someone to use a device to communicate, they will probably reject what you are forcing them to do. We need to change the “I am the instructor, you do what I say” mindset in education to better motivate students to learn and grow.

 

🔑 Coaching AAC users and their circle of support is best when it “holds up a mirror” by asking reflective questions to lead others to their own answers. This leads to better internal motivation. Watch videos of yourself coaching to see how much you consult vs. coach. 

 

🔑 If you want to work in the area of AAC and you are waiting until you feel totally prepared to be an AAC Specialist, you might never get started. You can coach, implement, and share AAC resources with others no matter what your title. Districts often want to see you know how to find the correct information rather than that you know everything there is to know about AAC already. 

 

Have some great questions for our team? Join our Patreon group now at patreon.com/talkingwithtech to participate in our next edition of TWT Live on December 9th!

 

Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

Talking with Tech LIVE from New Jersey - Part 1

Talking with Tech LIVE from New Jersey - Part 1

November 11, 2020

This week, we share Part 1 of a “crowd sourced” episode recorded as a webinar with listener feedback we call “Talking with Tech Live”! To start, Chris and Rachel cover some AAC core concepts, like criteria for evidence-based practice, signs a child needs AAC, avoiding “quick fire” phrases, and 80/20 ratio for core words. Then, Rachel and Chris, together with listeners,  discuss some effective coaching strategies when working with AAC users via telepractice! Stay tuned next week for more listener questions & participation in Part 2!

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel talk about connecting with people who share similar genetic information, including the story of how Chris learned he had a half-brother through 23 and Me! 

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 Three criteria ASHA about evidence-based practice: Is there research supporting the practice? Do professionals agree it’s a good strategy? What are people who actually use AAC telling us works for them? 

 

🔑 Signs a child needs AAC: If they aren’t able to speak, they have minimal language, speech is hard to understand, vocabulary less than 50 words, or they use a high level of scripted phrases.

 

🔑 Be careful of using “quick fire” stored phrases. They can be useful for certain circumstances, like social situations, but quick fires don’t support the individual building blocks of language very well. 

 

🔑 Talk with AAC users about things that are memorable, exciting, interesting, even gross. AAC users aren’t inspired to talk about boring things any more than anyone else would be! 

 

Want more great TWT content and with access to members-only resources? Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

 

Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

Cuyahoga AAC Podcast Social Group: Benefits of a District-Wide AAC/AT Social Group

Cuyahoga AAC Podcast Social Group: Benefits of a District-Wide AAC/AT Social Group

November 4, 2020

This week, TWT presents Rachel and Chris’s meet-up with an AAC social group of SLPs and AT specialists in Cuyahoga county in Ohio! Their AAC podcast & research group sets aside time every month to listen and discuss a TWT podcast episode or journal article via Zoom. Rachel and Chris dropped by to connect with them and learn about how they have used the podcast to further AAC in their district.  The social group talks about how they formed their group, how Zoom has helped make getting together easier, how helpful learning about AT can be for SLPs, and creating social groups for AAC users within the district! 

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel brainstorm assistive technology questions that listeners might have, and some possible answers.  For example, turning on closed captions is really helpful with building literacy by presenting information in multiple modalities. Rachel and Chris also discuss word prediction and when a student might benefit from prediction that is “in line” rather than “ahead”.

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 Meeting on Zoom makes people more willing to participate in learning groups like this. Hopefully teleconferencing can make professional development for everyone more organic, authentic, and fun.

 

🔑 You can use Zoom to help students connect via a social group. This can be for just AAC users, AAC users and people who don’t use AAC, or even as a mentor-type relationship between a more advanced user and an emerging AAC user.

 

🔑 A social group for AAC users, whether in person or on Zoom, develops vocabulary that users may not use as often in an academic setting , like greetings and humor.

 

Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

 

Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

Codi & Jennifer Mendenhall: Using Social Media and Making Videos as a Teen AAC User

Codi & Jennifer Mendenhall: Using Social Media and Making Videos as a Teen AAC User

October 28, 2020

This week, TWT presents Chris and Rachel’s interview with Codi Mendenhall, a 14-year-old who has been using AAC since she was 5, and her mother Jennifer Mendenhall. Jennifer and Codi recently shared their story on a TEDx talk - you can watch here. Codi and Jennifer share about Codi’s journey learning to use AAC, the ways that Codi uses texting and social media to communicate with her peers, how to facilitate more communication opportunities for AAC users, and more!

 

Before the interview, Rachel and Chris discuss some of their upcoming trainings on coaching and virtual AAC assessment. Chris shares about a recent multi-series event he hosted with both live and asynchronous components, and how the pandemic has made new ways of learning possible.

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 When selecting AAC, it’s important to consider the input of those who will be communicating most with the AAC user, e.g., the family may find one app easier to program and use than others.

 

🔑 Communication partners need to be very patient with AAC users and should try hard not to finish their sentences for them. 

 

🔑 One way we can help motivate AAC users is by demonstrating that AAC is a way to connect more closely with the people in their life.

 

Check out Codi’s YouTube Channel, Codi’s Life

 

Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

 

Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

Stephen Kneece: Making Core Word & Speech Therapy Music Videos

Stephen Kneece: Making Core Word & Speech Therapy Music Videos

October 22, 2020

This week, TWT presents Chris’s interview with SLP, AT Specialist, and founder of Speech and Language Songs, Stephen Kneece! During the interview, Chris and Stephen discuss his work as a professor teaching AAC, as President-Elect of SCSHA, and how he founded a Youtube channel playing his original songs, including many songs targeting core words.

 

Before the interview, Rachel and Chris talk about how they are promoting AAC during AAC Awareness Month. Check out Chris’s Inclusive Technology Spotlight here: http://bit.ly/lcpsaac.  Rachel also shares about the new packet of resources she created to help learn more about an AAC user’s vocabulary needs (find out more at rachelmadel.com). Finally, Rachel and Chris discuss their hope that we all can continue to coach families via Zoom after SLPs are back working in person.

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 Coaching parents and team members has been more important than ever during COVID. Hopefully after COVID is less of a concern we can continue to reach out and coach an AAC user’s circle of support as part of our normal practice.

 

🔑 We can often get more bang for our buck helping families and staff support an AAC user than only working with the AAC user one-on-one.

 

🔑 Steven is the creator of Speech and Language Songs, a great resource with lots of songs about language concepts and using core words. You can learn more at https://speechandlanguagesongs.com

 

Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

 

Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

Erin Sheldon & Karen Erickson: Why Literacy Matters for People with Significant Disabilities - Part II

Erin Sheldon & Karen Erickson: Why Literacy Matters for People with Significant Disabilities - Part II

October 15, 2020

This week, we share Part II of Erin Sheldon’s interview with Karen Erickson! In this fascinating second half, Erin and Karen talk about emergent vs conventional literacy, and four indicators that maximize the likelihood of success with conventional literacy instruction (e.g., phonics, decoding, spelling):

 

  1. Does this child know most of the letters most of the time?
  2. Does the child have a means of communication and interaction?
  3. Are they interested and engaged during shared reading (when not given a reinforcer)?
  4. Is there an understanding that writing is about letters and words?

 

Erin and Karen also discuss the benefits of inclusion for everyone in the classroom, and why Project Core is a universal, Tier 1 solution for teaching symbol-based communication. 

 

Before the interview, Rachel and Chris discuss one of Rachel’s clients whose family had no idea that the client had the ability to read and write. Rachel and Chris talk about the importance of doing foundational assessments to see what clients know, why incorporating books into therapy is so important, and the benefits of bringing in a reading specialist. They also touch upon dealing with a family who feels guilt that they did not understand how to help their child sooner.

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 It’s important to let your client pick what to read in therapy. If we are to develop a love for reading, it’s better with a book that interests them. Epic books is one way to search for interesting books (and it's free for educators).

 

🔑 If we say a student “isn’t ready yet” for high-tech AAC, there needs to be a plan for how we will get there. If we only provide low-tech supports with no core words, there may be no pathway to robust AAC. 

 

🔑 If we are trialing a device with someone who has never learned core words, we can’t expect them to use their device right away.  If we teach core words to everyone with complex communication needs with or without a device, they are better prepared to use a device at a later point. 

 

Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

 

Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

Erin Sheldon & Karen Erickson: Why Literacy Matters for People with Significant Disabilities - Part I

Erin Sheldon & Karen Erickson: Why Literacy Matters for People with Significant Disabilities - Part I

October 7, 2020

This week, TWT presents part 1 of special education specialist Erin Sheldon’s amazing interview with literacy expert Dr. Karen Erickson on promoting literacy for people with significant disabilities, including deaf/blindness and severe intellectual disability. They talk about supporting access to grade level standards for kids with complex needs, the problem of the candidacy model, why literacy is critical for everyone's well being, and more!

 

Before the interview, Rachel shares about meeting Hannah Foley virtually and how Rachel was able to connect Hannah with one of her clients. She shares about all of the ways that meeting a proficient AAC user motivated her client (and her client’s circle of support) to work even harder to achieve AAC proficiency. 

 

Key ideas this week: 

 

🔑 We can teach reading and writing every day to every person. It’s not easy and it may take longer, but it isn’t impossible. There are people with significant disabilities that read and write every day. 

 

🔑 Without literacy, a person with significant disabilities may lose the ability to connect with friends who have moved away after school. We want people to be engaged and happy when they are 25, not just when they are 10. Literacy is the way that we socially connect now. 

 

🔑 “Presume competence” doesn’t mean “presume there is no disability”. We don’t want to presume people with significant disabilities will learn the same way in the same amount of time. We should presume potential and that there is a path to success. 

 

Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

 

Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

 

Smiles for Speech provides children with special needs living in impoverished communities with the therapeutic intervention and  resources they need to enhance their ability to reach their full potential. Contact them at sfsvirtual@smilesforspeech.org to sign up for their upcoming dyslexia workshop on October 10th!

Kaylie Gustafson: Supporting Eye Gaze Users Through Telepractice

Kaylie Gustafson: Supporting Eye Gaze Users Through Telepractice

September 30, 2020

This week, Rachel interviews Kaylie Gustafson, an SLP and AAC specialist in the schools who frequently works with AAC users who utilize eye tracking. Kaylie talks about remote modeling over Zoom using the “remote control” feature, which allows her to model on the user’s device and watch what the user does in response. Kaylie shares lots of tips and tricks for supporting eye gaze, including turning on visual/auditory selection feedback, using Boom Cards and Google Slides with eye gaze, positioning and calibration during telepractice, and more! 

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel talk about their recent presentation,“Talking With Tech Live.” During TWTL, they answered questions along with the participants and “crowdshared” the presentation, allowing the community to help each other learn! Rachel and Chris share their thoughts about this format and promise to air segments from this presentation in upcoming episodes of TWT!

 

Key ideas this episode:

 

🔑 You can model on an AAC user’s iPad during telepractice by using the “remote control” feature on Zoom. Learn more here.

 

🔑 Help Kidz Learn is membership service with lots of activities and games for a variety of access methods, including switch, eye gaze, mouse, and touch.

 

🔑 Ian Bean’s SENict Resources page has an excellent (free!) selection of online activities for switch, touch screen, mouse, and eye gaze that can be used in therapy and assessments. 

 

More Links:

 

Access to Education conference 

 

Gassy Gary Powerpoint on TpT

 

Assistive Touch 

 

How to Annotate in Zoom

 

Toy Theatre 

 

Crickweb 

 

Playlists on Rachel's YouTube Channel

Shawnda Saul: Telepractice AAC Coaching for Teachers, Parents, and Staff

Shawnda Saul: Telepractice AAC Coaching for Teachers, Parents, and Staff

September 23, 2020

This week, Chris interviews Shawnda Saul, an SLP and AAC Specialist who runs the Learning Language AAC Initiative for Arlington Public Schools. Chris and Shawnda discuss how she promotes modeling and language instruction in the classroom, her approach to coaching communication partners, the changes she has seen coaching families during distance learning, and more!

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel talk about rethinking how we educate students. Teaching is still thought of as presenting information to a class from the front of the classroom and having students spit that information back on a test. For example, math instruction often has students memorize formulas and complete worksheets, even if they have dyscalculia. Chris demonstrates how we can better ground learning in functional problems, like discussing planting lettuce as a way to understand the concept of perimeters. 

 

Key ideas this week: 

 

🔑 Accurate content about the world is widely available to students, making the concept of a teacher providing information to students from the front of a classroom less relevant. Instead, we should be teaching students strategies for absorbing and evaluating content more effectively on their own. 

 

🔑 Coaching communication partners about AAC and making them I feel comfortable using a device is the most important thing clinicians supporting AAC can do.

 

🔑 For many SLPs during distance learning, a much bigger part of therapy with AAC users takes place in the home. Hopefully we can continue to reach out to families to support them after school resumes in-person and move to more of a coaching model rater than just direct therapy.

 

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Lauren Kravetz Bonnet & Brittany Thomas: Short-Term, High-Intensity AAC Intervention in the Schools

Lauren Kravetz Bonnet & Brittany Thomas: Short-Term, High-Intensity AAC Intervention in the Schools

September 16, 2020

This week on TWT, we share Chris’s interview with Lauren Kravetz Bonnet, an SLP & AT Specialist, and Brittany Thomas, who is also an SLP. Lauren and Brittany talk about their school-based communication program to support students with complex communication needs. This program is a short-term (i.e., less than two years), high-intensity intervention to teach young students to use their device more effectively. It is not a self-contained program; students get their support in an integrated, general education setting with in-class speech support for a large portion of the day. Lauren and Brittany share about their success with this program, the reduced need for this program as teachers embrace AAC more broadly, the importance of reflective listening with teachers and families, lessons learned training peers to become communication partners, and more!  

 

Before the interview, Rachel and Chris discuss one of Rachel’s new adult clients and the bittersweet experience of seeing the potential in the client but also seeing the time that was lost to poor AAC implementation. Rachel’s client uses some sign language and has had a device for many years, but he arrived without many skills using the device. The  device was difficult to navigate and was not optimized for motor planning, and parents said that when they started using the device “he didn’t want to use it.” Rachel shares about the many great signs that AAC will be successful, including that the client pays a lot of attention to communication and is a quick learner. Finally, Rachel shares about the changes she has made to his device template and how she has improved implementation at home.

 

Key ideas this week include:

 

🔑 Building rapport with school staff is a big part of Brittany and Lauren’s success. When teachers see that the device isn’t a barrier to progress in the classroom and the AT team is there to support them, they are more likely to embrace the device in the classroom.  

 

🔑 Lauren started having much greater success with teachers and staff by doing more job-embedded coaching and reflective listening to lead people to their own solutions rather than telling them what to do. This leads to greater motivation on the part of staff and less of a struggle to find success.

 

🔑 Getting school peers to engage in authentic communication with AAC users increases positive attitudes about AAC and can be really motivating to all the students involved.

 

Follow Lauren @aps_astech and Brittany @msbrittanyslp on Twitter to learn more about them and their awesome work!

 

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Alison Bono: Transitioning from Low Tech to High Tech AAC

Alison Bono: Transitioning from Low Tech to High Tech AAC

September 9, 2020

This week, TWT shares Rachel and Chris’s coaching call with Alison Bono! Alison is an SLP who reached out to Rachel and Chris for help working with a young student with complex communication needs. On the call, Rachel and Chris explore moving from low-tech to high-tech supports, getting teachers on board with a core language approach, integrating core words into routines, motivating the circle of support, and more! 

 

Before the coaching session, Rachel and Chris dive into Rachel’s latest “intensive” approach to supporting clients. During this approach, Rachel had observation and coaching sessions at least once a day over a two week period with a client’s circle of support, including behavior therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and parents. Rachel shares how this intensive approach gave her a new perspective on this client, provided lots of ideas for making faster progress, and gave everyone even more motivation to support the client’s use of AAC and language. 

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 Until Rachel observed the whole circle of support during intensive coaching, she wasn’t aware of everything that was happening with communication partners. Partners may not see that they are prompting, or that the client is not actually responding spontaneously.

 

🔑 Asking reflective questions can be more helpful than giving advice. Allowing people to think through their problems and come up with their own solutions can lead to greater ownership and change.

 

🔑 A more intensive approach harnesses the collective energy of the team and promote greater change.  Positive change in the client can then motivate the circle of support to continue improving and growing.

 

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Alexis Martinez & Natalie Fry: Increasing Access to AAC for Grad Students

Alexis Martinez & Natalie Fry: Increasing Access to AAC for Grad Students

September 2, 2020

This week, Chris interviews recent SLP graduates Alexis Martinez and Natalie Fry about their experience focusing on AAC in grad school and their thoughts on how AAC instruction and mentorship can be more effective for graduate students in the future. 

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel answer a listener question from a parent who has multiple children who use AAC. This parent has one 3-year-old child who uses LAMP Words for Life (WFL), and another child who uses LAMP WFL - Visual Impairment. Chris and Rachel discuss integrating low tech supports into daily routines, placing those supports around the home, modeling for both kids using high-contrast symbols, and taking a few minutes to model with each child individually. 

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 It may be better to have a required AAC course early in grad school, rather than later, to better prepare students for the clients they may see early in their clinical training. 

 

🔑 If an early AAC course isn’t an option, AAC and core language instruction can be embedded more into first-year graduate courses 

 

🔑 Guest speakers about AAC can include AAC specialists and local AAC product representatives.  Borrowing devices from lending libraries to be used in class is another great way to integrate AAC into graduate courses.

 

Links: 

 

Previous TWT Episodes with Parents of AAC Users: Caitlin Calder, Dana Nieder, and Erin Sheldon

 

Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

 

Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

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