UA-115456113-1 Talking With Tech AAC Podcast
Talking With Tech AAC Podcast
Rachel Dorsey: Taking a Neurodiversity-Affirming Approach to Therapy

Rachel Dorsey: Taking a Neurodiversity-Affirming Approach to Therapy

December 2, 2021

This week, Rachel interviews Rachel Dorsey, an amazing SLP with Autism who runs a private practice and teaches courses on Neurodiversity and Goal Writing. Rachel shares her perspective on neurodiversity, how to help shift the perspectives of others to better affirm neurodiversity, the importance of co-regulation for Autistic people, and more!

 

Before the interview, Rachel and Chris sit down with Melissa Bugaj and Sara Gregory to have a quick roundtable banter about gestalt language processing (e.g. scripting) vs analytical language processing, and ways that all people may use both methods to learn language.

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 A “neurodiversty affirming approach to Autism” involves respecting everyones differences and seeing people through their strengths and not just their deficits. It Includes listening to people from that community to learn from them how to improve your affirming practices. 

 

🔑 What can we do to help shift people’s perspective to better support neurodiversity? Rachel Dorsey says help these people to ask “why”. Why is this happening? Why are they being disruptive? Why did they go from not being able to do a skill to doing it? Is it environment? Then, shift what you do next time in response to what you learn. 

 

🔑 "Co-regulating" can happen in therapy when both therapist and the student (or client) help each other regulate. This will look different for different people. Does the Autistic person like to be left alone to do their own thing? Do they enjoy physical presence, or do they want space? Co-regulation helps to build trust and rapport and may help improve progress in therapy down the road.  

 

Use the code MADEL30 to get $30 off Rachel Dorsey’s course on Goal Writing for Autistic Students at Dorseyslp.com/courses

Michaela Ball: Is an AT Certification Worth It?

Michaela Ball: Is an AT Certification Worth It?

November 28, 2021

This week, Chris chats with Michaela Ball, TWT’s Audio Engineer & SLP Grad Student, about getting a certification in Assistive Technology while she finishes her Master’s degree. They have a lively discussion about why Chris thinks that the time and money spent on AT certification could be better spent on other kinds of professional development.

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel discuss a recent experience Chris had in a classroom of young students playing Minecraft, including using Immersive Reader to read text in the game and learning about coding while playing Minecraft.

 

Key Ideas This Week:

 

🔑 In many parts of the US, there are lots of SLP jobs available without needing a specific certification to get the job. AT jobs may or may not be more competitive depending on the area you work in.

 

🔑 People who choose to get certification have good reasons to do so, but getting a certification can be a large expenditure of time and money that could be spent more effectively in other ways.

 

🔑 RESNA certification could be useful in situations where professional competence is called into question or to improve your resume when looking for AT jobs. Chris has heard from RESNA-certified colleagues that their certification was not very useful in improving their day-to-day work as an AT professional.  

 

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 V: Mark Brown, Meryl Schnapp, Jennifer Edge Savage, Kim Albrecht, & Colleen Warn

Small Talks V: Mark Brown, Meryl Schnapp, Jennifer Edge Savage, Kim Albrecht, & Colleen Warn

November 17, 2021

This week, we share five brief “small talks”, or short interviews, with Mark Brown, Meryl Schnapp, Jennifer Edge Savage, Kim Albrecht, & Colleen Warn!

 

Before the interviews, Chris and Rachel have an amazing discussion about targeting spontaneous language when people do not communicate much without a prompt or model. For example, you can help parents and teachers realize how much (or little) their child/student communicates spontaneously by having them track it during the day. Making sure to give appropriate wait time and finding something that is motivating are also essential to encouraging independent initiation. 

 

Small Talks This Episode:

 

🗣️Mark Brown discusses 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, and how we can better support them through AAC during early language development. With 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, language is delayed and there can be cognition deficits. There can also be VP insufficiency which creates hypernasal resonance and impacts articulation and intelligibility. AAC can be used as an interim support before they are more intelligible. 

 

🗣️Meryl Schnapp shares about using 3d printed tactile core symbols, and her efforts to create large classroom sized core board with tactile symbols that are always put in a consistent location, because it would be frustrating to dig through a basket of objects every time you wanted to say a word. 

 

🗣️Jennifer Edge Savage talks about starting AAC Town Halls during the pandemic while working for northeast PRC-Saltillo.  They had a lot of SLPs sharing resources with each other about things that were new or different during remote learning, like AAC tele-assessment. 

 

🗣️Kim Albrecht talks about making her home the local “grand central station” for the neighborhood kids, which is really good exposure for her daughter Miranda.

 

🗣️Coleen Warn discusses working to create asynchronous learning experiences for people. They developed a bunch of screencasts that are only about 2-5 minutes long that cover different aspects of different AAC tools to encourage people to learn more about their devices.

 

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!

Alexandria Zachos: Supporting Spontaneous Speech in People Who Script

Alexandria Zachos: Supporting Spontaneous Speech in People Who Script

November 11, 2021

This week on TWT, we are excited to present Rachel’s interview with the amazing Alexandria Zachos! Alexandria is an SLP, educator, and private practice owner who specializes in treating delayed echolalia (aka scripting) and using the Naturalistic Language Acquisition framework to move from echolalia to self-generated language. Alexandria has a wealth of information to share about gestalt language (learning language in chunks or scripts), how we can teach language to gestalt learners, and how to determine if someone is a Gestalt Language Processor. 

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel share about a recent presentation at Closing the Gap, and their plans for a similar pre-conference session at ATIA on January 26th from 8 am to 4 pm. They discuss some of the plans they have to make the sessions fun and share some of what they have learned about putting together a meaningful presentation.

 

Key ideas this week: 

 

🔑 There are two ways that people learn language - Gestalt Language Processors, who learn in chunks or scripts, versus Analytical Language Processors who learn one word, then learn to put two together, and so on.

 

🔑 Some GLP communicate with single words, but they can’t combine words together to make longer sentences. Others use longer scripts to communicate that are taken from things like favorite media. Other GLP sound unintelligible for a few syllables then say clear word - the unilntellgible sounds and the word together make up the gestalt.

 

🔑 Understand what stage of echolalia the child is at: 

  1. Echolalia - full scripts. Can be delayed (scripts are used long after the initial stimulus).
  2. Mix and match - moving around partial scripts or taking parts of scripts.
  3. Magic stage - starts to understand that words are units - singling out words and understanding they can stand alone.
  4. Beginning grammar and novel original language.

 

Help them get as many gestalts as possible in Stage 1, then they can break them down in Stage 2 and get the to Stage 3 where they can single the words out. 

 

Find out more about Alexandria’s work at www.meaningfulspeech.com or on Instagram @meaningfulspeech

 

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!

Cindy Gelormini - Improving Inclusion Through Storytelling

Cindy Gelormini - Improving Inclusion Through Storytelling

November 3, 2021

This week, Rachel interviews Cindy Gelormini, parent of an autistic person and author of a series of children’s books about autism called "Robbie's World and his Spectrum of Adventures". Previously, Cindy built a following on YouTube making videos about her son and their life together. Cindy shares about her son’s journey as a communicator, and some of the challenges he faced not having a method of communication beyond PECS and gesture. Tragically, her son passed away, and Cindy discusses why she wanted to write and illustrate a series of books to carry on Robbie's memory and to help others understand autism a little bit better.

 

Before the interview, Rachel and Chris discuss their upcoming presentation on Coaching at ASHA 2021! They will be presenting together on November 19th, from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm. Chris will also be presenting on gaming and communication on Saturday, 11/20 at 9:30 am, and presenting on robots and communication on 11/20 at 4:30 pm! 

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 Without a good foundation of communication, people can become much more frustrated and there can be more behaviors. In some cases, this frustration and stress may lead to other health problems.

 

🔑 If seizures are happening to a client or someone in your family, start tracking what happens before the seizure, what happens after the seizure, and what it looked like. This information can be very helpful down the road.

 

🔑 For some people, AAC is important because they know what they want to say, but the right words aren’t being articulated.  For example, Rachel shares about a client that answered every preposition question with the verbal answer “under” but, when given an AAC device, was able to select the correct answer every time, indicating he knew the correct preposition even if he couldn’t say it.

 

Links:

Cindy's YouTube Page (includes episodes of her podcast and videos of Robbie): Robbie and Me: Autism Reality 

 

 

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!

Lory Chrane:  Sowing the Seeds of AAC in Uganda

Lory Chrane: Sowing the Seeds of AAC in Uganda

October 27, 2021

This week, Chris interviews Lory Chrane, an AAC Specialist and Professor at Abelene Christian University. Chris and Lory talk about how Lory has tried to improve pre-service teaching by involving as much experiential learning as possible, especially in the area of AAC instruction. Lory also describes a mission trip to Uganda to work with Hope Speaks, a nonprofit that supports people who have communication challenges and SLPs in Uganda. 

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel connect to talk about slang and AAC, including the slang word “poggers" that Chris learned from his kids. Chris notes how putting the current slang on AAC devices can make help users talk the way their peers do and make using the device more motivating.

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 Teaching students how to problem solve and meet challenges head on when dealing with AAC can really help students not be afraid of AAC in practice.

 

🔑 It’s important to teach students that a lot of work with AAC is teaching language concepts to AAC Users who have difficulty with vocabulary. A much smaller part of working with AAC involves programming or more technical work.

 

🔑 Lory is working with ACU on a project to support greater inclusion of AAC users into faith-based activities. This includes teaching church leaders to use the Symbol-It software  to provide symbols along with text for greater visual support.

 

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!

 

To learn more about Hope Speaks, go to joinhopespeaks.org

Coaching Call with Anya Ashouri - Part 2: Focusing on AAC Strategies, Not Just Tools

Coaching Call with Anya Ashouri - Part 2: Focusing on AAC Strategies, Not Just Tools

October 20, 2021

This week, the TWT team presents Part 2 of Chris and Rachel’s coaching call with Anya Ashouri, an SLP and AT Specialist for a Non-Public School. In this half of the coaching call, Chris, Rachel, and Anya discuss how to decide what the next AT strategy to work on with students will be, the benefits of providing visual supports to everyone all over the school, how to monitor the quality of implementation in the classroom, and how to get students more excited about the writing and editing process. 

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel discuss a question from Luke about supporting AAC users who primarily use text to communicate (rather than symbols). Rachel touches on how to model AAC using text, when a typing-only system (e.g. Proloquo4Text) would be more appropriate than symbols + text, and how to encourage modeling AAC for a family when parents understand the child’s speech but it is difficult for others to understand.

 

🔑 When you are assessing a child with complex communication needs who has strengths in the area of writing, look at the complexity of the AAC user’s utterances - if there is low MLU and simplistic sentences, consider including symbols along with the keyboard to support language growth and modeling.

 

🔑 If a child wants to type messages more than use symbols, but they still have growth to make in learning vocabulary, consider a hybrid  like TouchChat with WordPower80 that includes a keyboard and symbols. That will allow you to teach new vocabulary while using a keyboard at the same time.

 

🔑 When you are considering what kinds of supports you want to target on in the area of AT, consider the strategies that will make the biggest difference, and not just the tools that are needed. For example, making “modeling” a targeted strategy rather than making “high tech AAC” a target allows you to implement a strategy that can be used by all students, not just AAC users.

 

To listen to last week’s episode, visit talkingwithtech.org/episodes/anya-ashouri

 

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!

Coaching Call with Anya Ashouri: Getting School Admin Buy-In for AAC

Coaching Call with Anya Ashouri: Getting School Admin Buy-In for AAC

October 14, 2021

This week, the TWT team interviews Anya Ashouri, an SLP and AT Specialist for a Non-Public School who had questions about  identifying students in her school who are complex communicators but were not given AAC to communicate. Anya describes how she came to learn that her school needed more robust AT, the steps she took to train herself on AAC and AT, and asks Chris and Rachel for advice on getting admin and parent buy-in for robust AAC. 

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel talk about a journal article from May 2020, called “The Effects of Telepractice to Support Family Members in Modeling a Speech-Generating Device in the Home”. The article resonated with Chris and Rachel because they both had always felt that coaching family members through tele practice can lead to greater success than direct therapy alone.

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 If we are building from the ground up, we should tell people what AAC is and why its important. It’s easy to overwhelm people with jargoin if they are not familiar with AAC.

 

🔑 Many people thing about the SETT framework to select the AT tool, but that is only one part of it. As you are having this discussion, discuss what kind of outcome you want? What else needs to change in the environment? Do we need to change the tasks?

 

🔑 When you visit a classroom, be conscious of how you can help all the kids, not just one student. Helping teachers with ways they can promote language development for all students is a good way to build rapport and buy-in. 

 

Links:

 

 “The Effects of Telepractice to Support Family Members in Modeling a Speech-Generating Device in the Home”. by Sarah Douglas, Elizabeth Biggs, Hedda Meadan, and Atikah Bagawan

 

https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/2021_AJSLP-20-00230

 

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

 

To listen to this episode, search "Talking with Tech" in your podcast player of choice or go to www.talkingwithtech.org/episodes/anya-ashouri

Anu Garla: Benefits of AAC Coaching and Intensive Language Interventions

Anu Garla: Benefits of AAC Coaching and Intensive Language Interventions

October 6, 2021

This week, Rachel interviews Anu Garla, a mother of Oliver, a boy with autism and cortical visual impairment who uses AAC to communicate. Anu describes her journey getting a diagnosis, how she started working with Rachel, why coaching with Rachel really jump started progress for her son, and advice that she has for other parents who are starting on an AAC journey (e.g. little “homework” assignments for parents can help).

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel discuss a recent presentation that Rachel did that she almost missed due to clerical error from one of her staff, and how she adjusted to the situation and made the presentation work. They also discuss how they decide how much to charge (or if to charge) for doing presentations, and have advice for people wanting to do more presentations.

 

Key Ideas This Week:

 

🔑 Oliver didn't really make a lot of progress until they started working more closely with Rachel during the pandemic. There was an intensive intervention with Rachel and Oliver that led to the discovery that the team needed to give more time for Oliver to initiate. 

 

🔑 Sometimes, intervention in the home environment is more “quality than quantity”. If you have short, high quality interactions and connections with your child, they are still making progress. It doesn’t need to be hours of intense “drill and kill”, it can be based on brief, quality interactions throughout the day.

 

🔑 Its important to listen to families as much as other professionals on the team of an AAC user. Parents usually know their child better than anyone!

 

🔑 Before we decide if a child can or cannot do something, we need to make sure motivation is there. Motivation is a current that flows through everything we do as educators and therapists.

 

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!

 

Link from this episode:

 

Comprehensive Literacy for All by Karen Erickson and David Koppenhaver: https://www.amazon.com/Comprehensive-Literacy-All-Significant-Disabilities/dp/1598576577

 

Anu's Facebook & Instagram: @oliphantabulousstormilicious

India Ochs: Lawyer, Social Justice Advocate, Mother, and AAC User

India Ochs: Lawyer, Social Justice Advocate, Mother, and AAC User

September 29, 2021

This week, Chris interviews the incredible India Ochs! India is a brilliant social justice advocate, lawyer, educator, and board member for USSAAC and ISSAC who is also a lifelong AAC user. India describes her incredible journey with AAC, how she has used her many skills to advocate for social justice, why she volunteers so much of her time to the disabled community, and what she sees are the impacts of systemic racism on the field AAC (e.g. lack of vocabulary words to talk about racism).

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel respond to several comments from listeners about their recent banter about PECS. Some listeners said PECS works for them while robust AAC  doesn’t work for them. Chris and Rachel note that, if robust AAC hasn’t worked, maybe the implementation hasn’t been done in a systematic way. They also respond to the idea that PECS is a necessary stepping stone to robust AAC, and provide some strategies for demonstrating early success with robust AAC when it doesn’t look like AAC is “working” yet.

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 While the systematic nature of PECS implementation can encourage some people who would like a step-by-step guide, in some cases it causes students to “stall out” at a particular stage because they are required to demonstrate certain skills before moving on the next skill.

 

🔑 A simple paper and pen can be the most effective form of AAC for some literate AAC users. 

 

🔑 It is difficult to find symbols for words like racism, anti-racism, African-American, Black person, hispanic, Martin Luther King, Jr on many AAC devices. Developers need to bring in experts on Black history and anti-racism to tell us what vocabulary we need to add to our devices.

 

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

 

To listen to this episode, search "Talking with Tech" in your podcast player of choice or go to www.talkingwithtech.org/episodes/india-ochs

 

Links from the episode:

 

AAC Speaker Connection: https://speaker.ussaac.org/

 

Silent Auction benefiting USSAAC that ends October 15th:

https://www.silentauctionpro.com/bidonlinegrid.php?groupId=1860

or email Virtualauction@ussaac.org

 

India's Blog: https://intrepidoaks.com/

 

Xceptional AAC Leaders Book with Chapter by India 

Laura Hayes: How to Shape & Support AAC ”Stimming”

Laura Hayes: How to Shape & Support AAC ”Stimming”

September 22, 2021

This week, Rachel interviews SLP and AAC Facilitator Laura Hayes! Laura recently did a presentation on AAC in the Cloud on AAC “stimming” and how we can best support AAC users who choose to press a button or series of buttons repeatedly. Laura shares that, If a person using AAC is “stimming”, ask yourself “how can I shape what we are doing” (e.g. teach a lesson on the word they are pressing) rather than just trying to extinguish the behavior.

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel discuss a listener question, who asked for ideas on how to become a better communicator and presenter in a conference setting. Chris and Rachel share lots of tips on presenting to others, including the importance of making it interactive, asking reflective questions to the audience, showing vs telling, and why often less is more.

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 “Stimming” means different things to different people in the context of AAC devices. Laura found  this behavior had 4 main purposes: babbling/exploration; exploratory perseveration; self regulation through audio/visual/tactile components, and/or scripting/echolalia. 

 

🔑 If a person who uses AAC is disrupting a classroom because they are pressing buttons on their device while others are talking, teach the student to turn on “whisper mode” to make the device quieter.

 

🔑 According to Alexandria Zachos of meaningfulspeech.com, as many as 75% of autistic individuals are gestalt language processors, i.e., they process chunks of language without distinction between individual words. 

 

You can reach Laura on Instagram @aac_innovations or via email at aacinnovations01@gmail.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!

TWT Live: Closing The Gap - Part 3

TWT Live: Closing The Gap - Part 3

September 15, 2021

This week, we hear from Part 3 of TWT Live - Closing the Gap 2020. This week’s portion of TWT Live has lots of helpful ideas for communication with families, coaching, motivating students, advocating for high-tech AAC with clinicians who always start with PECS, and more! 

 

Before the interview, Chris shares about his recent experience as “Shadow the Labrador”, a mascot at a local school. He and Rachel discuss why we need to be the zaniest person in the room sometimes to get people motivated to talk. They also discuss a situation Chris was in recently where he wasn’t sure if he should ask for compensation for consulting with a company about their newest new technology tool. Rachel gives Chris some tips about asking for compensation and strategies she uses in negotiations.

 

If you would like to listen to Part 2 of this presentation, you can listen at talkingwithtech.org/episodes/twt-live-ctg-2

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑  If you have limited enthusiasm in your district for AAC, try finding teachers and/or staff who are excited about using technology in their curriculum and start working with them first. 

 

🔑  What motivates a person can change over time. Periodically, do a preference assessment with your students to maximize motivation.

 

🔑  Have students give you directions on what to do (e.g. drink water) using their device - a lot of times, students are told what to do all day, and turning the tables can be motivating

 

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

 

To listen to this episode, search "Talking with Tech" in your podcast player of choice or go to www.talkingwithtech.org/episodes/twt-live-ctg-3

TWT Live: Closing the Gap - Part 2

TWT Live: Closing the Gap - Part 2

September 9, 2021

This week, the TWT team presents part 2 of Talking with Tech Live: Closing the Gap! This week, Rachel and Chris discuss several topics with the audience, including personal core /key vocabulary, the importance of literacy, and overcoming barriers to high-tech AAC in school districts. 

 

If you would like to listen to Part 1 of this presentation, you can listen at talkingwithtech.org/episodes/twt-live-ctg-1

 

Before Part 2, Rachel and Chris discuss PECS in greater detail, including why motor planning is so important when comparing PECS to other AAC options, the consensus among experts that Chris and Rachel trust about PECS vs. more robust AAC, and why choosing robust AAC has the least chance of harming the client.

 

Key ideas this week: 

 

🔑 Without the benefit of a motor plan, using PECS to communicate can be more fatiguing than using more robust AAC. For some of Rachel’s clients, making limited progress on PECS made the family resistant to other AAC options later on.

 

🔑 When making a difficult decision between strategies as clinicians (e.g. PECS vs robust AAC for a client with some verbal skills), we should choose the intervention with the lowest chance of doing harm. If we assume the client will will need AAC in some form forever, the time spent teaching PECS could have been better spent learning motor plans on a robust AAC device.

 

🔑 If we are trying to help teachers and admins embrace robust AAC, you can point to the abuse and neglect statistics for people with disabilities. Teaching language through robust communication systems gives students a better tool to future abuse and neglect in the future.

 

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: Closing The Gap - Part 1

TWT Live: Closing The Gap - Part 1

September 1, 2021

This week, we share Chris and Rachel’s presentation from last year’s Closing the Gap called “Brainstorming Solutions to Real-Life AAC Questions”. During this week’s Part 1 episode, Chris and Rachel share about evaluating evidence-based practices, when to consider “verbal” clients for AAC, how to determine when someone is ready for AAC, and more!

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel discuss ABA therapy and why working with ABA therapists can be very helpful in some cases, but difficult in others. Rachel shares about working with an ABA team that refuses to follow suggestions about working with her client’s AAC device, and how that has impacted her client’s progress using AAC. Chris also shares his three questions that he asks himself before employing a strategy like AAC:

 

  1. Is it research based?
  2. What are professionals saying?
  3. What are the people who are using the strategy saying worked for them?

 

Chris notes that, in particular, the last question can be very important. Chris wonders whether the people who are getting ABA are saying “thank you” afterwards for the intervention.

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 Consider AAC when someone has a high level of scripted phrases - AAC can be a great way to build novel generative language skills. Build vocabulary skills with more abstract language concepts.

 

🔑 Just because someone has speech some of the time doesn’t mean they have speech all of the time.  AAC can be a great backup for people who have inconsistent difficulty with expressive language.

 

🔑 There are no prerequisites for high-tech AAC - people learn to use AAC when they are given the time and the oppertunity to learn it.

 

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!

Megan Roberts: Research Supporting Parent-Implemented Interventions

Megan Roberts: Research Supporting Parent-Implemented Interventions

August 25, 2021

This week, Rachel interviews Megan Roberts, an Associate Professor and SLP at Northwestern University. Megan started the Early Intervention Research Group, where she researches early parent-implemented interventions for children with hearing loss, autism, and developmental language disorders. Megan has lots to share about her research behind parent-implemented interventions, early behaviors that are a predictors of autism, and how to approach conversations with parents about their child's possible autistic-like behaviors.

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel discuss a listener’s email about a difficult situation with an administrator. When the listener requested a high-tech AAC device for a minimally-verbal student, her school administrator told her she needed to give him low-tech AAC, because there was no way to get the student high-tech AAC. Rachel and Chris talk about how this administrator was stepping out of their role, and how Rachel and Chris would approach the situation to push back against this.

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 Megan’s most robust predictor of autism in her assessments have been the presence of contact gestures, e.g., the person uses another person’s body part as a tool.

 

🔑 When we notice possible signs of autism in a young child and want to discuss this with parents, focus on identifying the behaviors that might interfere with learning rather than the “autism” label. Then, you can “wonder” about those behaviors with the parent, how they might impact the student, and how these maladaptive behaviors might be suppressed via intervention.

 

🔑 Girls with autism can present very differently than boys with autism early in their development - we need more research to better define what the differences are.

 

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!

Amanda Soper: AAC Implementation Strategies for People with CVI

Amanda Soper: AAC Implementation Strategies for People with CVI

August 19, 2021

This week, Rachel interviews Amanda Soper, AT Specialist, SLP, and Professor at Gallaudet University. She supports, among others, people with cortical visual impairment (CVI) who also use AAC. Amanda shares from her experiences working with CVI, including: how she teaches vocabulary, the importance of reducing visual complexity in the environment, talking through navigation, and the three main red flags for CVI:

 

  1. You notice there is something not quite right about a child’s functional vision. There is nothing structurally wrong with their eye, but they are having vision problems.
  2. There is a medical history of neurological conditions, such as a lack of oxygen to the brain, or chromosomal disorders.
  3. 10 visual behaviors that characterize a person with CVI’s vision, including: need for movement, color preference, visual field deficits, absence of visually-guided reach, and difficulty with visual complexity.

 

Learn more about Amanda’s strategies at http://www.aacreatively.com/. You can email her at amandasoperslp@gmail.com

 

Key ideas this week: 

 

🔑  Pull students out of class when introducing a new device or a new overlay, because the complexity of the class environment can make it more difficult to understand the new symbols.

 

🔑  When using AAC with someone who has CVI, you can talk through the navigation when you are introducing new vocabulary to help them track and follow. (“press the red apple, then the blue man”)

 

🔑  Try and teach AAC vocabulary to a person with CVI in context, like working on “fork” during eating time.

 

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Amy Fleischer & Melissa Petersen: Benefits of a Universal Core Board for All Students

Amy Fleischer & Melissa Petersen: Benefits of a Universal Core Board for All Students

August 11, 2021

This week, Chris interviews school-based AT Specialists Amy Fleischer and Melissa Petersen! Amy and Melissa share lessons they have learned about putting universal supports in place, including universal core boards in Melissa’s district. They discuss many of the reasons why Melissa wanted to put a universal core board in place, how her district decided on what words to include, and the improvements she has seen in overall AAC implementation since that time. You can view  the website she made for her district here

 

Before the interview, Rachel and Chris discuss a recent trip Chris took to visit his cousins and all of the visiting with his family. Chris shares about tempting his young relatives with fun games, and then waiting for them to come over on their own, and relates that to motivating AAC users with a “tempt and pause”.  

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑  When Melissa made a low-tech support universal, teachers who were previously afraid of technology said they felt more confident with the core board. This helped them to focus more on modeling and descriptive teaching, and less on the technology.

 

🔑  Putting the district logo on their universal core board helped Melissa to get buy in from some teachers and staff - they said it make the board look more “official”. 

 

🔑  If we want communication partners to take on extra responsibility via coaching, it helps to give them resources they can pick up and run with. A great way to do this is with a low-tech board, because we are giving them something inexpensive they can go out today and start using with students. 

 

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Jayme Grant: Effective AAC Assessment, Treatment, and Progress Monitoring - Part 2

Jayme Grant: Effective AAC Assessment, Treatment, and Progress Monitoring - Part 2

July 22, 2021

This week, we share Part 2 of Chris’s interview with Jayme Grant. Jayme is an Educational Technology and Assistive Technology Specialist in Beaufort, South Carolina who wanted to interview Chris about AAC and Assistive Technology. In Part 2, Chris and Jayme discuss obtaining funding for AAC and AT, shifting away from a direct therapy model for AAC users, monitoring progress, and more!

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel finish up answering some questions from one of our Patreon users about changing the mindset of AAC communication partners. In this listener’s school district, classroom staff appear more interested in AAC assessment than AAC implementation. Rachel and Chris share why it can be helpful to break coaching sessions up into smaller “bites” and how to reduce the negative impact of staff turnover on AAC users by coaching family members as well as school staff. 

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑  School should be an opportunity to get kids excited about things they never would have been excited about in the first place. SLPs can benefit from fun activities in therapy, because we can get students to talk more about things they are interested in.

 

🔑  Mindset is the most important first step in a successful implementation. Many people who work with people with disabilities start with a mindset that a student must prove they can use AAC before we give them AAC and help them learn to use it. We must help them see the AAC user’s potential before we move on to assessment or implementation.

 

🔑  When measuring progress of AAC users, don’t measure how much he or she uses the AAC tool, measure whether or not the desired outcome was achieved. It is difficult to say if the AAC tool we provided is the total reason someone is communicating more, or if it is a combination of factors. By measuring the outcome, you don’t have to worry how much the AAC device was the cause.

 

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Jayme Grant: Using Team-Based Assessments to Determine Long Term AAC Needs - Part 1

Jayme Grant: Using Team-Based Assessments to Determine Long Term AAC Needs - Part 1

July 14, 2021

This week, we share Part 1 of Chris’s interview with Jayme Grant. Jayme is an Educational Technology and Assistive Technology Specialist in Beaufort, South Carolina who wanted to interview Chris. The resulting interview is packed with useful tips and ideas for improving AAC assessment and implementation! 

 

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel discuss more questions from a Patreon user about how to change the mindset and culture surrounding AAC in her district. Rachel and Chris talk about coaching teachers to use core words to describe fringe words, why we shouldn’t create temporary pages for specific activities or academic topics, and more!

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑  Rather than add academic vocabulary to a device that will only be used for a particular lesson or unit, try coaching the team to describe academic words using core words. This helps teach core words and doesn’t create temporary folders  and additional fringe vocabulary words, which can interfere with motor planning.

 

🔑  Technology is a tool, not a quick fix. Make sure the team understands that giving a device to someone is only the beginning. Parents sometimes demand a device without understanding the work that goes along with teaching how to use this tool.

 

🔑  During assessment, consider having a team member, such as a teacher, describe what they want a potential AAC user to be able to do with the device long term. Even better, consider collaborating with a variety of communication partners to determine AAC needs. Collaboration amongst the team on assessment can help avoid disagreements later about the decisions that were made about device selection and implementation. 

 

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Mark Nichols: Supporting AT and Universal Design in Higher Education

Mark Nichols: Supporting AT and Universal Design in Higher Education

July 7, 2021

This week, Chris interviews his long-time colleague, Mark Nichols, an AAC/AT Specialist who is the Senior Director of Universal Design and Accessible Technologies at Virginia Tech. Chris and Mark talk about the differences and similarities between higher education and K-12 for universal design and AT, the types of technologies that are often very useful in higher education, how to determine how much a university supports inclusion and assistive technology, and more! 

 

Before the interview, Chris shares memories and thoughts about the late, great Joy Zabala with his wife, Melissa Bugaj. They talk about the importance of Joy’s SETT framework, the impact Joy had on AT, and Melissa and Chris’s personal relationship with Joy and how she influenced their personal life. 

 

Key ideas this week:

 

🔑 You can set up software to identify how inclusive your materials are. Software like Grackle for Google Docs (grackledocs.com) will scan a document to determine if there are accessibility issues (e.g. a pdf image that does not support text to speech) before the document is posted.

 

🔑  Accessibility and universal design are not just for a select set of people with disabilities - many times, typically developing students will benefit from making materials more accessible. Also, making the solution universal students don’t have to ask for the tool to have it available.

 

🔑  Consider making a training video for staff that outlines all the ways that universal design and accessibility can make a big difference for students and then gives training on how to use the technology services currently available to make more accessible materials. 

 

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

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