Friday May 05, 2023

Darla Ashton: What Have We Learned About AAC in the Last 10 Years?

This week, we share Chris’s interview with Darla Ashton, an Assistive technology Coordinator, Instructional Specialist, and BCBA with Carmel Clay Schools in Indiana! Darla and Chris discuss topics in AAC related to the question, “What do you know now that you didn’t know 10 years ago?” Darla discusses her district’s journey to determine what AAC program to use, Darla’s move away from the “expert model” of AAC assessment, creating an AAC professional learning group in her district, how more BCBAs should collaborate with the team to support AAC, and more!


Before the interview, Chris, Melissa, and Tucker Bugaj gather to discuss AAC use on the popular Star Wars series, “The Mandalorian”. They discuss how characters tried to say “Baby Yoda” wasn’t ready for AAC, and how Baby Yoda (aka Grogu) protested, pressing “no, no, no, no” and refusing to give up his AAC.


Key Ideas this Week:


🔑 One important shift over the last 10 years for Darla is shifting to giving the teacher a tool to teach language without putting pressure on the student to use the device - an AAC user doesn’t have to “prove” anything for us to provide them AAC. 


🔑 Darla believes the most important thing for an AAC user’s success isn’t necessarily the app we choose, but the confidence level of the people who are going to be communicating with the student (e.g. staff, teachers, parents, SLPs).


🔑 In Darla’s district, some classes will have several AAC users who all use the same AAC app. Darla will frequently provide the same AAC app to a new AAC user joining that class. However, there are some circumstances where Darla will not provide the same AAC app to a student, such as when a sibling has a different AAC system at home and the parents would like to model using that app.


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