Jan 13, 2014  2 Comments

Notes from AAC and AT Workshop 23 March 2011


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Here are the minutes from the AAC and AT workshop

Implementation strategies for AAC

1. No one fits all

2. No age bar to use AAC

3. Must be child centered

4. All people working with the child must be trained

5. Promote child initiating

6. Evaluate both hi tech and low tech AAC devices

7. Using communication devices when there are behavioral issues has proven to reduce the behavioral issues significantly

Things to consider while exploring low tech AAC devices

· Good for starters

· Good for kids that cannot independently play with equipment or have limited vocabulary

· Make sure the child really understands the object, associate picture with actual object

· Expose the child to one AAC device at a time for better results

· Use heavy duty earthquake proof Velcro to secure objects used during activity

· For low vision kids use flash light and ensure background is contrasted

· Having switch adaptation where possible is necessary when the child is wheelchair bound/has access issues.

Things to consider while exploring high tech AAC devices

· Core vocabulary and ability to change to match child needs is important.

· Flexibility in the tool is needed else the child will lose interest.

· Any change to the AAC device should be in consultation with all the AAC team members (Parents, teachers, therapist, care providers etc).

· For low vision kids use flash light and ensure background is contrasted.

· Laser based scanning devices may work best when the kid is wheelchair bound with poor head control and has limited arms and limbs movement. This option must be weighed with other medical conditions such as CVI, low vision and hearing issues.

· Last but not least look at shelf life and how the equipment will grow with your child.

Note: Before making investment in a AAC device it is highly recommended to get an eval done by a speech pathologist. The speech pathologist does not necessarily have to be a AT specialist.

Techniques that helps while using AAC/AT device

· Use flip video to record a certain teachable moment and playback later to child to check for understanding

· Use a commonly available (Walgreens carries them) photo message recorder

· If the child is not interested in a particular activity, first find why, perhaps could be fear or perhaps repeating the same activity many times might get the child interested, think about what adaptation to the activity is needed to get the child motivated. Just don’t give up if a child shows disinterest in a particular activity when tried for the first time.

· If the child speaks a bit, speak what you want the child to say , don’t ask questions, as the tendency of the child is to repeat the sentence.

· Be structured even in the home setting

· Integrate teachable moments as much as possible into your natural home environment

· Have lamination machines at home , it is great to protect the icons

· In a particular activity with the child always think if this child/person can speak what would it be and say those and gauge child’s reaction

Funding sources

· CCS

· Medical and your private insurance

· School district will pay if it is part of IEP, unless it is low incidence and related to academic goals

Various AAC devices out there

Some of the below equipment were shown at the session

· Pexs – Picture exchange system

· PODD on HP tablet

· Boardmaker

· Go talk

· go talk 20+ - (can record voice in this equipment but not switch accessible, can store up to 20 icons/pictures)

· Step switch (can record voice)

· Head switch, cause and effect toys

· Dynavox express

· Vantage

· Light writer (useful for non-verbal kids that can type, easy to carry around)

· iPad, iPod, iPhone with zillions of apps . iAdapter is a good cover for iPad hides the home and on/off button, thus prevents accidental locks

- Cubric app – helps the child in creating sentences by using icons

- smart baby app

- touch chat app

- tap to talk app is very good as a communication device

- talk in car app

- scene and heard visual scene display app – Supports communication using contextual scenes , plays your own recorded messages and videos from anywhere. This app is not released yet will be in May 2011

Cost varies for low tech starting from 100 USD to 16000 USD for some of the high tech equipments

Resources :

· CRIL – Hayward based company that will loan AAC equipment

· Inclusive TLC – A switch progression roadmap booklet is a good resource to evaluate and map your child’s progress while using switches

· education.com has good resource

Sushma