In this video I’ll show you how to use guided access with your students when you’re using an Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) app on an iPad.
As a speech language pathologist (SLP) working with students, you’ll find some of your students will know their way around an iPad. A student might decide he doesn’t want to be in the AAC app any more so he clicks out of it to go exploring. Maybe he’d rather play a game or use the camera app. It’s easy to limit this access using settings that are available on iPads.
I’ll walk you through the steps to set this up on your iPad including using a passcode to limit access to different apps and functions in apps on the iPad. Remember, this isn’t being mean or controlling. It’s all about helping your student be successful with his AAC device. He can use a different iPad to access games and other activities.
The other day someone asked me how I got into AAC.
I have to say, I didn’t always love it like I do now. It was more like a love/hate relationship. Love the possibilities, hate the reality. Okay not hate, that’s harsh.
Either way, AAC has always fascinated me.
But I can tell you, I was not “good” at it when I got started. I did NOT AAC like a Boss-it was more like AAC Like An Indentured Servant. 😂 I didn’t know what I was doing (and I felt really bad about it).
However, I did know I wanted to help these kids and I needed to up my skill set.
So, I took every online AAC course I could find and started reading articles, blogs and research papers. When I went to ASHA conventions I would soak up all the AAC sessions.
I’d take the ideas to work and give them a try. Some things worked, a lot of things didn’t.
One thing I noticed, again and again, was that I would learn so much in a course I’d get OVERWHELMED with information and not even know where to start.
Fast forward 11 years to 2018. Finally! What I was doing was working. Time to relax right? Haha not me.
I started thinking… “I learned all this good stuff, I can’t just keep it to myself. I don’t want to help just a few kids, I want to help all the kids“.
That’s when the idea for AAC Academy was born. I opened the doors in May 2018 and I was SCARED.
Scared no one would join,
scared people would say who does she think she is,
scared it wouldn’t work.
I squashed the doubts (actually just muffled the noise). Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith.
Now it’s exactly one year later and hundreds of people have been through the door!
I’m just thrilled to share this AAC journey with them and would love to share it with you too!
I’ve used everything I’ve learned to give you an AAC Roadmap to confidence and success. And it’s all in bite-sized, easy to implement pieces.
The joy that comes from helping a child expand her world through communication is priceless!
You and I are in the process of helping our kids shape their one wild and precious life with their communication.
Where did you learn about AAC? Hopefully, if you are a recent SLP graduate you took an AAC class as part of your master’s degree program. But what if you graduated a while ago? Or what if you find yourself suddenly needing to know more? AAC Academy is a new way to learn more about AAC; it might be just what you need.
Of course, you want to help the kids who have AAC devices (or desperately need AAC devices), but you just don’t have the experience, or the knowledge base, or the confidence-never mind the time it would take to get caught up on the latest EBPs for AAC intervention. So you tell yourself you’ll get to it later. Only later never comes, and those kids are out there waiting for you NOW!
Why is it we feel so confident when it comes to almost all of our amazing scope of practice, yet when it comes to serving kids with complex communication needs, we feel our SLP self-confidence slowly slipping away?
I know just how you feel! When I started out in this field a decade ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I had so many questions.
Now, I can see you struggling too. We all feel bad for the kids because we want the very best for them. That’s when I knew I had to do something. Something had to change.
I’ve seen AAC build amazing communication bridges. If the people in a child’s life are afraid to use AAC, I hate to think of how many children are really missing out. It’s time to change that.
So I had to create AAC Academy.
Imagine feeling truly confident in your ability to bridge that communication gap. See yourself helping families connect and children become more successful in the classroom.
Imagine giving a student the gift of increased independence and expressive language. Now, instead of throwing a tantrum when he wants his favorite toy, he’ll be able to use AAC to “say” “I want my toy”. You’ll be giving him the ability to clearly express “I like” or “I don’t like”. You’ll opening a whole new world for him.
It’s time to AAC Like a Boss.
My academy-stye group AAC “coaching” program will build your SLP skills, increase your confidence, and allow you to help ALL of your students strengthen their communication skills.
AAC Academy will answer your AAC questions:
How do I start?
With AAC Academy you’ll confidently jump in
What core words do I start with?
You can feel on top of your game with a complete plan and the support you need
How long do I teach each core word before I move on?
Understand the theory and research behind modeling language for your students
How do I model and teach core vocabulary?
See video modules with specific easy to implement example
How do I deal with multiple different devices in a classroom?
You’ll gain knowledge to make group therapy work for all devices
What if my student just wants to push buttons?
Learn strategies and techniques that allow time for exploration and time to “work”
Confidence-build knowledge of AAC
You’ll have support, no more going it alone
Help kids find their voice and truly make a difference
Expand your skill base, overcome technology fears
Save time-videos and modules are bite-sized (no huge time commitment)
Connect with like-minded SLPs/educators in the Facebook group
Want solid AAC and Assistive Technology ideas and tips for school speech therapy? Watch this engaging interview with AT Specialist Chris Bugaj. We talk about the importance of presuming potential, core vocabulary, motor planning, aided language stimulation and AAC in the IEP. You’ll also learn the AAC mistakes we both made.
I was lucky enough to spend two days at an Assistive Technology workshop for school districts across Arizona led by Chris Bugaj. Chris is a Licensed Speech – Language Pathologist in Virginia with Certificate of Clinical Competence. He is also the founding member of the Loudoun County Public Schools’ Assistive Technology Team.
Chris is not only knowledgeable, he’s an engaging speaker with contagious enthusiasm for all things AAC and Assistive Technology.
Big AAC Takeaways You Don’t Want to Miss: (or advice for the new SLP who’s a little scared)
You have to own this! If you’re inspired, you can inspire others.
Believe in your student; presume potential.
Understand the fundamentals of AAC.
Aided Language Stimulation is a must
You don’t write an AAC goal, you write a language goal. Lean on your language expertise to be able to write better goals.
Check out these highlights:
The staircase analogy 11:00
Core vocabulary and the cell phone analogy 15:23
Mistakes Chris and I both made 17:00
How to approach AAC and AT in the IEP 23:00
My “aha” moment (a different way to look at back-up AAC) 25:00
I learned so much at the ASHA convention in Los Angeles that I just had to share it with you. After attending outstanding presentations on AAC, I have to let you in on some of my biggest aha moments and takeaways. These five free AAC Resources will make your SLP life easier.
1. AAC for students with visual impairments
This year I’m working with several students who not only have complex communication needs but they also have a visual impairment. These are the kids that I think about a lot. Trying to strategize and come up with some type of a communication system for them is really challenging.
Laura Stone gave an amazing presentation that included resources for purchasing tactile communication systems using Core Vocabulary and suggestions for how to create your own.
STACS: Standardized Tactile Augmentative Communication Symbols Kit is available online
Texas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired has standardized a Tactile System (FREE guide) http://www.tsbvi.edu/images/attachments/Tactile-Symbol-List1.pdf
And you can make your own symbols too using corrugated plastic or cardboard. I’ll be diving deeper into this subject in an upcoming interview with Laura.
2. Low-tech AAC Gems from Gail Van Tatenhove
” Low-tech doesn’t scare the crap out of people.”
” Low-tech is a rich environment in which you can do language.”
” You can have more than one motor plan.”
” Low-tech can temporarily reduce the cognitive load.”
” Look at access, intentionality, and motivation.”
And FREE posters http://www.project-core.com/teaching-core-vocabulary-posters/
I hope you can use these AAC resources. I know it can be a confusing area with a lot of different resources, devices and vocabulary sets. We just have to keep ourselves informed, reach out to other SLPs, look at evidence and use our best clinical judgement.
I think one thing that all the AAC experts agree on is the importance of Aided Language Stimulation or Modeling.
Do you get a little scared when you are writing AAC goals in the IEP?
As in, you’re just not quite sure how to word the goal, let alone make it smart? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
It’s easy to get a little overwhelmed and stuck here. I’ve been there. I remember the first time a teacher said ” Oh by the way, Johnny has this talker device thingy in his backpack, what do we do with it?” I knew we had to push buttons to make it talk but honestly that was about it.
When I thought of writing goals and how to include the device, I was really lost.
So now, a few years later, I’ve figured a few things out and done a lot of investigating when it comes to AAC in the IEP. It’s really not a black and white area but here’s how I do it.
Tip #1: Don’t be scared! It’s mostly just language. You’re an expert in language, (remember you’ve got a master’s degree). You’ve got this.
Don’t freak out about the AAC part. Just focus on what you want your student to communicate. Then look at the how. Look across all areas of language not just labeling. If you get stuck, a helpful tool is Communication Matrix (I’ll include a link at the end of this post). You can use it not only for assessment but also for looking at the areas of language use for emerging and beginning communicators. These are: refuse, obtain, social and information with detailed information on the hierarchy of each.
Here’s an example situation:
Currently when Johnny wants an item he points to it and/or physically takes an adult and to the item. We want his next step to be using core vocabulary words (verbally and/or through AAC use) to obtain a wanted item.
Sample goal from Kate Ahern that I really like:
“Given his communication system of 9-12 core words and ongoing aided language stimulation across the school day Johnny will communicate for three different purposes (such as greeting, commenting, requesting, labeling, asking and answering questions) during a 20 minute group activity with no more than two indirect verbal cues (hints).”
Also you can refer to 1988 Janice Light et al who wrote of four competencies for AAC users: Linguistic, Operational, Social, and Strategic. Kate Ahern lists good examples of these in the linked article below.
Tip #2 An AAC goal still needs to be SMART. (A S.M.A.R.T. goal is defined as one that is specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and timebound). You’ll be including time frame, conditions (modeling, cuing, prompting), measurement, assessment and baseline; just like you do in your other goals.
Tip #3 Check to make sure you know your district and state’s procedures and requirements. They aren’t all the same. Talk with your lead SLP, Assistive Technology Consultant, School Psychologist or Special Education Director to make sure you’re including all the required information. Find out where your district wants you to document the type of AAC a student is receiving. It could be listed in the goal OR it might be in the Supplementary Aids and Services section of the IEP.
Tip #4 Document the type of AAC equipment, software or low tech AAC in general descriptive terms. You don’t want to name the specific devices because then you’ll be out of compliance if you’re not using that specific piece of equipment. Think about all the times devices are left at home, aren’t charged and even are broken. You want to make sure you have access to an alternate (such as a laminated photo copy of the main screen on a speech generating device). Here are some suggested terms:
Try this: Communication system including coreboard, choice board, and fringe vocabulary
Tip #5 In the IEP present level section explain why your student needs AAC in school and how your student uses AAC. Here’s an example:
“Johnny uses an augmentative alternative communication (AAC) system to request and to comment. Johnny’s AAC includes a 40 symbol core communication board, 6-8 symbol choice boards and a 10-12 symbol comment board. He is using this system in a variety of settings. This AAC system impacts his progress in the general education curriculum because it allows him to participate in class discussions and activities. This allows for assessment of what he knows. “
Then, of course, you’ll include all the rest of your information on goals and progress.
So there you have it, I hope you found this useful. To sum it up your 5 tips to Writing Smart AAC Goals in the IEP are:
Don’t be scared-it’s just language.
Remember an AAC goal still needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time-bound.
Check for district & state procedures/requirements.
Document the type of AAC in general descriptive terms.
Back up your goals in the present level by stating why your student needs AAC and how it impacts his progress in general education.
I have to say this is just a quick summary to get you thinking. As always, use your clinical judgement, do your research and reach out to other SLPs.
Here are links to helpful articles I’ve found:
Kate Ahern’s Meaningful and evidence based goals: here.