Feeling Happy…

This evening, I had the honor of watching my mentor (Ruth Morgan of Chapel Hill Snippets) receive an award for her many contributions to the practice of serving students who need alternative or augmentative communication. It was a much deserved award and her passion for her work was evident.

A WONDERFUL organization called the New Voices Foundation sponsored the event in honor of an amazing individual who used AAC – Laura Jane Parker. They awarded four individuals who have dedicated their careers to serving students with physical and communication needs. Check out their website to see more of the awesome work that they do – I could go on all day!

It was a true honor to be in this room, surrounded by some amazing professionals, celebrating the work of our peers. I will admit that prior to this event, I was feeling kind of low. Political agendas (both state and local) had gotten me down. But sitting in that room – I felt the love.

The folks behind New Voices truly care about individuals with communication needs and for the professionals that are working to serve those individuals. That’s something I haven’t felt in a while. I left with a renewed spirit.

The field of AAC is dynamic. This is the time to be innovative and to collaborative! Tthings aren’t great in the NC public school systems, but there are people out there fighting for us to get the tools and support we need. I hope to work with New Voices in the future.

It’s time to get out of my funk and focus on the good – believe me there’s a lot of good. It’s an exciting time to work in AAC!

What do others do when you start feeling low about your work?



Tis the Season…for Job Interviews

As many of you know, I have the privilege of working with an enthusiastic and hard working graduate clinician this semester. It’s been a true pleasure to work with her and I know she will go on to be a great speech language pathologist. In a few short weeks she will be graduating and looking for her clinical fellowship position. I remember these days, and how nerve wracking the job interview process can be. Luckily for me, a fellow speech language pathologist – TJ Ragan from “The Gladdest Thing Under the Sun” wrote this AMAZING blog post with job interview questions to practice. Click HERE to find the link to those questions.

This was my bible when I was interviewing, so I asked if I could share this on my blog. I hope others find it as useful as I did. Good luck!

Does anyone else have any interesting job interview questions to share?



Components of my AAC Evaluation

Spring is here!!!!! Well… spring break that is. This winter was a busy one, but it’s time to get back on the blogging wagon. I have a deep respect for those professionals who are working full time and keeping up these blogs as a “hobby.”

I’m looking at you praacticalaac.org

I recently finished a comprehensive AAC evaluation. As I made my recommendations, I kept asking myself “Why?” I think that if I can convey why I’m recommending a certain device or accommodation, then I’ve done my job.

AAC assessment is an iterative process. I’ve found that it takes me a great deal of time and gathering information from multiple sources.

Here are the components of my AAC assessment:

1. File Review – Gather all information you can. Check IEPs, progress reports, notes/data from therapists, and TALK TO MEMBERS OF THE TEAM! I’ve found in some cases, the buck stops here. Often I have quick recommendations that the team can put in place, but if more information is needed – we proceed with the assessment.

2. Observations – In MULTIPLE settings. I sit as unobtrusively as possible in classrooms, therapy sessions, or anywhere else that will wield good information. Not only does this provide information on how the student is functioning within the typical day, but I can analyze the environment as well.

3. Data – I like to have some objective information to support those gut feelings. This can be done through trials. There are more and more tools coming out. Here are a few that I’ve been using recently:
AAC Evaluation Genie App (I especially like the visual discrimination subtest)
AAC Profile from Linguisystems (This follows the format from Janice Light’s research. You can find more information on that in this previous post
TASP (Created by the Joan Bruno – creator of Camp Chatterbox)

4. Feature Matching – Once I have identified the needs and areas of strength, then I can try to match the best technology for that student.

5. Summary and Recommendations – I like to use simple tables in this section to bring it all together. In my first table, I summarize areas of strength and areas that were identified as challenging. Next I make recommendations. It is important to clarify that I only make recommendations. It is up to the IEP team to meet and decide what, if any, of my recommendations should be implemented in the IEP. My recommendation table includes three columns: AT currently in place, AT tools to consider, and AT recommendations.

What are you using for AAC assessment?