4 Reasons I Love High-Tech AAC

 

High-tech AAC is MY JAM. I just love it. I get 99% of my clients a high-tech device ASAP! Why, you ask? Why do I jump to high-tech when there are low-tech options I could use? Well… since you asked….

  1. High-tech is powerful. It creates a VOICE for that person (that is not mine). It has speech output!! Communication partners can listen to the client for the first time! The reaction of the clients can be downright tear-jerking and/or hilarious to hearing their voice.
  2. High-tech devices are the future. Everything is moving toward  advanced technology these days, and communication is no exception. We are ditching paper and we are moving on to iPads, tablets, computers, and phones. We should consider this when choosing a communication system.
  3. Less stigma. No lie, using a high-tech device like an iPad is “cooler” and less stigmatized than other low-tech mediums. I don’t like that using all types of AAC is stigmatized, but it’s the...
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7 Things I Wish I Knew as a New Speech-Language Pathology Grad Student

 

This post is for the new speech-language pathology student. Congratulations! YOU DID IT. All of those hours studying for the GRE, all of those nights you cried because you weren't sure you were going to get into graduate school.... it's now behind you! But ahead of you is slightly unknown. It's intimidating. It's a bit scary. I wish I had been more prepared for graduate school, not so much academically, but emotionally. Here are the 7 things I wish I knew as a new speech-language pathology grad student.

1. How You Interact With Your Classmates Matters

You don't need to be BFF's with everyone in your class. You don't even need to like them all. But your interactions are crucial to your overall mental well-being. 

You're going to be spending A LOT of time with your cohort. You're going to learn about their family situations, their interests, their stressors, and their birthdays. You're going to feel like you can't wait to see a few of them, and you're not going to be able...

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Using AAC with a Person with Autism Spectrum Disorder

I'm a huge nerd when it comes to working with individuals with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. 

You see, I wrote a graduate thesis and another paper on children with ASD and children with developmental language disorder, or DLD. 

I can't tell you how many research articles I have read on ASD. 

I also can't keep count of the number of people I have worked with who have ASD. 

It was never my intention to seek out working with individuals with autism, it just kind of happened!

And I'm so very glad it did.

I would like to mention that many people with ASD prefer the label-first name, for example, autistics or autistic person. In the academic realm, person-first language is preferred. I often use person-first language (e.g., person with ___), however I completely respect and will sometimes use label-first language out of respect for the autistic community. It is never my intention to offend or hurt a person who identifies either way, and please know that I...

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They Can Request With AAC, Now What?!

So, your student, client, or child can request using augmentative alternative communication (AAC). Now What?! 

Let me give you some examples of requesting:

"I want a drink."

"Want."

"Me please."

"My turn."

"Get it."

There is SO much more than requesting that all humans should have access to. But, even if we know we want to add more communicative intent to our student/client/child's inventory, how do we facilitate that?

It's all in the modeling

It really is. We need to model (when we demonstrate and help a person use their AAC system) more types of sentences and communicative functions.

Here are the eight communicative functions listed in the Communication Intention Inventory (CII). They were considered to be representative of early intentional communication. These categories can be used to determine intervention goals (Austin, 2013):

1. Comment on action

2. Comment on object

3. Request for action

4. Request for object

5. Request for information

6. Answering a request for...

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5 Tried-and-True Ways To Pay Off Student Loans As A Therapist

On February 7th, 2019, I paid off my student loans that I accumulated in college from 2009-2016. I have two advanced degrees: a Bachelor's in Communication Sciences and Disorders from an out-of-state public school, and a Master's from an in-state public school. At graduation from graduate school, I had close to 80k in debt to private and federal student loans.

It took me from May of 2016 (graduation) - February of 2018 to pay off all of my debt, including student debt. That is less than two years.

I had $73,783.00 of total debt in October of 2017, which is when I went crazy on my student loans and car debt. Before October 2017, I was paying off around 12k/year on my federal student loans and private loans. However, I was still accumulating car debt in the meantime, and using credit cards (I paid off the balance each month, but it is debt, nonetheless).

So, How Did You Pay It All Off?

This is a long answer, but I will try to be succinct. I credit Dave Ramsey and his materials of The...

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5 Ways to Implement Core Vocabulary in the Classroom

Core vocabulary. You've probably heard about it. You may know the benefits it can provide to people who use AAC (augmentative alternative communication). But using it?! It can be difficult to wrap your head around using core vocabulary in the academic setting. Let me help you with that!

Here is a definition of core vocabulary: Core vocabulary refers to the small number of words that make up > 70-90% of what we say on a daily basis. These words are relevant across contexts and can have many meanings (Core Vocabulary Studies and Core Word Activities, www.prentrom.com). 

An example of core vocabulary include: help, stop, go, I, you, me, want, drink, eat, like, feel..... the words go on and on!

What core words are (generally) not: nouns, names, proper nouns, some adjectives (that we don't use frequently). 

Why do we AAC SLPs often like and recommend core vocabulary? Because it's giving people who use AAC access to words that people with typical speech use the most....

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How To Do AAC For Free

 

One of the things I pride myself in is my ability to do AAC with no cost to myself. I mean... AAC is worth spending money on if you need to. But, sometimes it's just not possible. If you're a speech-language pathologist (SLP) like me, or a teacher, spending money on devices, apps, or materials isn't always an option. Here are the ways I've done AAC with $0.00.

Get a Free iPad

You heard me right. Get yo'self a free iPad, people! It's totally possible. Here are the four ways I have gotten a free iPad in the past:

1. Donor's Choose: If you work in a school as a teacher or SLP, go to Donor's Choose and register with them. Choose an iPad and a case. Share the link on your social media pages, and you can fund yourself an iPad! The first time I funded one in less than 24 hours. It's not difficult and totally worth it! 

2. Apply for a grant: While working in the schools, I applied for a grant for a free iPad through a local organization. I used HEAL (available to you...

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5 Tips For Parents to Implement AAC at Home

Parents' and guardians' participation in AAC is crucial for the child who uses AAC. Communication using augmentative alternative communication cannot be taught 30-60 minutes a week in a therapy room. It can be implemented in therapy, but the best outcomes occur when the AAC device or system is implemented across settings, throughout the entire day. 

Easier said than done, let me tell ya!

Here are 5 tips to help a parent or guardian implement AAC with their child:

1. Implement the AAC system during a daily routine

There are common things every child does throughout their day. A wake up routine, a bedtime routine, and mealtime routines (or feed routines if using a feeding tube). 

These times would be a great place to implement some expressive language and AAC! Think of language a speaking or typically developing child would want to say. For example, "get up" or "wake up" for the morning routine. "Put on shirt," "choose shoes," "make breakfast."

Choose a few words or phrases...

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