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.
Click below to watch or click here.
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
Where to find Chris Bugaj:
Want to get started with Core Vocabulary but aren’t sure how? Click here Quick Inexpensive Way to Get Started with Core Vocabulary.
Who’s going to the ASHA Convention in LA this year? That’s where I’ll be November 9-11 and this will be my 5th ASHA convention. Honestly, with over 15,000 people atteding, it can be a little overwhelming. If you’re a first-timer (or even second or third), I’ve put together 10 tips to getting the most out of ASHA convention 2017.
Tip #1 Plan your courses ahead of time
I know sometimes it’s fun to just wing it, but this is not one of those times. You’re probably spending a lot of money on registration, hotel room, meals, and travel. Let’s get the most bang for your buck, grab your program pocket planner (you should’ve received it in the mail) and highlight some of the courses that look really interesting. Then you can look them up online here.
Tip #2 Plan to make some connections
Think about what specific topics you’re most interested in. Maybe this is an area where you’d like to connect with like-minded SLPs. Show up early for the course so you can talk to some of the people sitting next to you. Even if you’re shy, it’s to say something like “I’m excited about this course” or “how’s the convention going for your so far?”, just break the ice.
Talk to the presenters after their talk.
When you’re walking around if you see an SLP blogger or TPT seller that you follow on social media, say hello.
Tip #3 Show up Early
Some of the courses fill up quickly, so there early and grab a good seat for yourself. It’s no fun standing against the back wall for being in the overflow room.
Tip #4 Bring snacks
Your brain is going to be on overload with all this great new information and just from the energy of being around so many people. You’re going to want to feed it and lots of times the lineup for snack items is really long. I like to bring almonds, trail mix, protein bars and a water bottle. (You’re going to thank me for this tip.)
Tip #5 Plan lunch
Plan ahead for your lunches. If you have back to back courses it’s pretty tricky to leave the convention center and get back on time. Because, let’s face it, everyone’s got to eat, so the restaurants get really crowded. I usually do a combination of the ASHA prepaid lunches and snacks. Or you could plan to skip one of the 1:00 sessions and have a fun lunch with some of your SLP friends. Yes, it’s okay, you don’t have to go to every time slot. It’s important to connect and network too.
Tip #6 Remember shoes are everything
Really consider your footwear. You’re going to be walking a lot and standing a lot in the Exhibition Hall, so keep it comfortable and profesh.
Tip #7 Bring layers
Of course, you can dress however you want. Remember you’re going to be sitting a lot, so you want to be comfortable. But you’re going to want to look professional too, (at least I do). I plan to dress in layers, because you never know what the temperature’s going to be like in each room. There’s nothing worse than trying to concentrate when you’re freezing or roasting.
Tip #8 Plan your Exhibit Hall Attack
The first few times, it can be a little overwhelming because it’s HUGE. Get the floor plan that comes with your registration packet and have a look. (Or look at Tip #10) Does that sound geeky? I just remember my first time. I didn’t have a plan and I ended up getting completely overwhelmed and exhausted. Now I do it differently. I go through the floor plan and highlight all of the booths I know I can’t miss. Then, I make sure I go to those first. I also schedule myself a nice block of time to look at things.
This is a great opportunity to check out some of the big vendor’s booths. There’s always tons of swag. Super Duper has a huge area (it’s like a store), where you can actually purchase therapy materials. They also give you a big huge tote bag to carry everything in. Again, plan ahead, you don’t want to be caring that huge bag with you all day to all your classes.
Tip #9 Explore and have some fun
Take advantage of being somewhere different. Go to some of the meetups, check out a fun restaurant, and maybe you’ll even have time to go to the beach.
Tip #10 Get the ASHA 2017 Convention app.
This free app allows you to sync your schedule and see your friends schedule. It also has maps and a What’s On Now feature to keep you totally in-the-know.
That’s all for now. I hope you find these ten tips helpful and I would love to see you in Los Angeles! I’ll be posting on Instagram (Beautiful Speech Life) and maybe even Facebook Live.
One of the best things about going to an ASHA convention is connecting. We all work so hard, it’s nice to have time to socialize with people who speak our language.
I’m still riding high from SLP Summit earlier this month. In case you missed it, my presentation was titled “Building Language supports through AAC”. I co-presented with Brian Whitmer from Coughdrop AAC. He handled high-tech while I spoke about low-tech AAC.[spacer height=”20px”]
The excitement, the connections, the information and the buzz was so uplifting and informative. I’m so thrilled to have been a presenter during this groundbreaking activity. The comments and questions, were so good, and I want to take the time to answer some of the really pertinent questions here. I’ll also provide many of the links and resources that I talked about.[spacer height=”20px”]
No more FOUA (fear of using AAC).
So let’s jump right in…[spacer height=”20px”]
“As the year for me is gearing up, I was discussing some suggestions for low-tech AAC or no-tech communication opportunities with one of my colleagues. I suggested to her that she might try some routines during sessions, and what came to my mind was the “magic wand” greeting and greeting song from the webinar you did during the Winter SLP summit. I was just wondering if perhaps you had a list of suggestions for routines you might use that would have an expected or repetitive response, similar to those activities I mentioned above?”~Caitlyn
This is a great question from Caitlin. I agree that routines are amazing in the special needs classroom. Here are some of my favorites:[spacer height=”20px”]
Use the magic wand to reinforce greetings when entering the room. A lot of our kiddos are not expected to greet anyone in any way. This is a really important social skill and a way for them to connect. Model waving and saying hi, hello. As soon as you get any type of response, give them some magic.[spacer height=”20px”]
With the younger kids, integrate a Hello song and Goodbye song. The links to see them are here on my YouTube channel
. (please excuse my bad singing, haha).[spacer height=”20px”]
As the kids get older I like to use something more age appropriate such as Whole Brain teaching rules
. We start each and every session with the “rules”. I use the posters for visual support, hand movements, and consistency. We love them. Here’ a little video
of us using them during our speech session. [spacer height=”20px”]
I’ve had really good success with the use of a simple visual schedule, just three or four little picture cards to show what we’ll be doing during our speech time. It doesn’t have to be perfect or beautiful, just consistently used.[spacer height=”20px”]
Incorporating songs and song choices
into our group time has also been a big hit. I use a Go Talk (more low-tech AAC) with little recorded snippets of each song for each buttons. Some examples are: Wheels on the Bus, Looby Loo, Twinkle Twinkle and Head & Shoulders. Over time you get the advantage of the students learning the songs too (especially if you incorporate hand movements and make it fun). Here is a link to my Pinterest
board of transition songs.[spacer height=”20px”]
Routine and predictably are your best friends. Last year, I followed the same basic routine in each of the three functional skills classrooms I work with. Here is my magic list.[spacer height=”20px”]
Primary functional skills: Magic wand, hello song, criss cross applesauce, go talk song Choices, core vocabulary board activity, 3 – 4 minutes iPad time for the whole group as a reward, the Goodbye song.[spacer height=”20px”]
Grade 4 5 6 functional skills: Say hello and shake hands as they enter the room, whole brain teaching rules all together, core vocabulary activity, 3 – 4 minutes iPad time for the whole group as a reward, age appropriate song on iTunes that we all chose together.[spacer height=”20px”]
Grade 7 8 functional skills: Say what’s up and shake hands (or fistbump) as they enter the room, whole brain teaching rules all together with more age appropriate hand movements, therapy activity, 3 – 4 minutes iPad time for the whole group as a reward.[spacer height=”20px”]
I hope this gives you some good ideas for your sessions.[spacer height=”20px”]
“How do you print the Core Board so large?”[spacer height=”20px”]
Great question. You don’t need any oversize printer or Kinko’s. Each page has four symbol squares, I have them in order, with really complete instructions. Just glue them to a poster board and then laminate. Easy peasy. Click here to learn more about the BIG Core board
. [spacer height=”20px”]
Is there research to support the 10-second hold for pointing when modeling? Everyone loves research
to back up what they’re saying especially when trying to get ABA professionals on board. -Amanda
Another great question! I don’t have the answer yet. There are several references to the 10 second point, but as far as research for the exact time I’ll have to keep looking. I’d say it is a suggested time by some highly experienced AAC experts (see these references). [spacer height=”20px”]
“Can I get a handout of the slide presentation?”
So many people asked for a copy of the slide presentation, I apologize for not including it. You can click here for the attachment. [spacer height=”20px”]
I’m also answering some of the questions on Facebook. Click here to see. [spacer height=”20px”]
Thank you so much to everyone who attended. I’m working on another AAC presentation as we speak.
Remember feel the FOUA and do it anyway,
As a school speech language pathologist (SLP) we are lucky to be a part of some wonderful SLP success stories. After all, that’s why we do this job; we love to be able to make a difference.
This is a really cool little story with a happy ending. A few years ago we got a new student in one of our functional skills classrooms. He was really quiet and when he did speak, he was very difficult to understand due to a severe phonological disorder. Little Ivan (not his real name) had also gone for years with an undetected hearing loss.
With time we were able to correct a lot of his phonological errors. As people begin to understand him, he became more confident and less shy. Ivan was a very kind student and quickly became the leader of the class. So much so, that we started to wonder about his diagnosis of moderate intellectual disability.[spacer height=”20px”]
When he was reevaluated, sure enough Ivan’s former diagnosis did not fit. Turns out he simply had a learning disability. I guess that the learning disability paired with the extreme shyness, the inability to be understood, the language impairment and the hearing loss had all combined against him.[spacer height=”20px”]
Our team slowly transitioned Ivan into the resource room and general education setting. We took it slowly and had lots of supports in place. The first day he took the regular bus home (instead of the sped bus) the school psychologist and I followed the bus to make sure he was able to independently get off the bus and go straight home. (He was).[spacer height=”20px”]
It wasn’t an easy transition and we had to stand up against a lot of people that didn’t believe us. But it was so worth it![spacer height=”20px”]
I’m happy to say that Ivan has is still in a general education classroom with resource support. I still get tears in my eyes telling this story, we were able to change the course of his life. That is so powerful![spacer height=”20px”]
Let’s celebrate our wins together! Today is the start of a new feature. I’m sharing one of my SLP success stories today and in the coming weeks I’ll feature yours. I’d love for you to submit a quick story, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.[spacer height=”20px”]
P.S. You can read more inspirational stories about SLP bosses here
. I’d also love for you to come and join the fun on facebook
, you can be the first to see live videos where I share SLP tips and tricks.
Do you love planners as much as I do? I created a special SLP summer planner just to help you make sure your summer doesn’t slip away.
And the best part…it’s FREE!
WE made it through another year! Now for a well-deserved summer break. If you’re like me you start the summer with very well-intended plans of projects, revamps and things-to-do. Sometimes the transition from flat out running and wrangling kids all day to summer relaxation can be a little tricky. SLP Summer Planner to the rescue.
So you take a few days to adjust. You make some vacation plans and you sleep in. Binge watch Netflix and before you know it, summer’s over. If you’re happy with that then great.
But… what if you start the summer knowing how you want to feel at the end of it? What if we a take little time to reflect on the past year and celebrate our successes? Let’s make time for what we really want to do with these precious months and use the SLP Summer Planner to make it happen.
What can you do to take care of yourself and refill the well? Who do you want to spend your time with? Figure out if you really want to do projects. If yes, pick ones that will make you feel good. Maybe you just want to sit under a tree and get lost in a book.
Give yourself what you need. The work you do is so very important. You really do make a difference. Because you “SLP”-ed Like a Boss all year, you deserve to be the boss of your summer.
I hope you use this SLP Summer Planner with a sense of play and intention. Then when summer comes to an end (which it always does) you can use the final sheets to transition into the coming school year.
Wishing you an incredible summer,
Beautiful Speech Life
P.S. Watch for the SLP Like a Boss School Planner coming soon.