Friday Mar 08, 2024

Kelley Coleman - Pushing Back Against an Incorrect AAC Evaluation

This week, Rachel interviews Kelley Coleman, speaker, author, and advocate! Kelley talks about her family’s AAC journey and her role as the mother of Aaron, a complex communicator in the 4th grade who uses AAC to communicate. She shares about her new book, Everything No One Tells You About Parenting a Disabled Child, as well as some of the high- and lowlights of her family’s AAC journey, including when Aaron’s school SLP suggested he go from high-tech AAC to a picture flip book!


Before the interview, Rachel shares about turning a client's questions about her microphone into a naturally occurring communication opportunity about podcasting - that also supported his independence!


Key ideas this week:


🔑 The goal shouldn’t bet just be communication for an AAC user, it should be autonomous communication. Not every student can communicate independently, but every AAC user can learn to communicate autonomously (e.g. share what they want to say, when they want to say it). Rachel was against the flip book because, among other reasons, Aaron wasn't physically able to use it independently. 


🔑 Kelley was told by her school SLP, “The only way Aaron will learn to communicate is if you use this flip book with 100% fidelity.” Kelley had so many responsibilities at the time, she couldn’t be with Aaron at every moment, and it made her feel like she was going to fail before she started. You have to meet parents where they are at and make modeling sustainable - something small every day is better than being so overwhelmed that you don’t even start! 


🔑 People who support AAC users should always try and keep an open mind in areas where they are not familiar.  Often, when a person can’t do something, it isn’t  because they are incapable - it’s because we haven’t supported that skill well enough yet!


🔑 Kelley says, as a parent, you should always be cognizant that the members of your IEP team may be providing services to your child for months (or even years) after that IEP meeting. It doesn't always make sense to yell at someone who is going to be providing services to your child for months (or even years) afterwards.


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