The Southern California Augmentative and Alternative Communication Network... a support group for professional development, problem solving, leadership, mentoring, and training in the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) to develop communication in non-speaking and minimally verbal individuals in the Southern California Region.

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Minspeak E-Newsletter - 10/31/11 - Asking "why?"

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October 31, 2011
  • Success Story: The Minspeak website has 12 stories of success – from a range of Minspeak-device users. See how Minspeak has transformed their lives.
  • Intervention Planning: Print out an Intervention Plan for helping your students learn to ask “why” questions.
  • Teaching Materials Exchange: Practice asking “why“ questions using a simple book called “ Why Do You Do That.” The text of the book is coded with Pixons and icon sequences from Unity®45, Unity®60, Unity®84, and Unity®144. To practice cause-effects concepts underlying “why” questions, use “ So & Because”.
  • Announcements: The Pittsburgh Language Seminar Series will be held on November 15 – 17, 2011 in Pittsburgh, PA and feature a presentation by Gretchen Hanser on literacy and AAC. For December (13th–15th) the guest speaker is Dr. Tracy Kovach. Contact Semantic Compaction Systems for more information on attending these learning opportunities. Ask about upcoming seminars for 2012!



Benefits of Minspeak
Using multi-meaning icons.
The power of motor automaticity.

Use of Minspeak
Minspeak systems with different disabilities.
Minspeak and cultural-linguistic diversity.

The Power of Minspeak
Minspeak, language and literacy development.
Using Minspeak in the classroom.

Support of Minspeak
Strategies to support use of Minspeak.
Minspeak teaching materials.

Visit us online
© Semantic Compaction Systems 2009
1000 Killarney Drive, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15234, USA.
Tel. 412.885.8541 Fax 412.885.8548
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Home Contact Us Minspeak What is Minspeak Who Uses Minspeak Why Use Minspeak Demo Minspeak Lives Transformed Through Minspeak

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dynavox Operational Training - Santa Ana, CA, Nov 17

This from Mara Marshall:

The next DynaVox Operational Skills Training for Orange County, California will be held on November 17th from 9 am to 2 pm at ATEC in Santa Ana. The address is 1601 E. Saint Andrew Place. 
ATEC in Santa Ana has a really neat AAC Mentoring Group held on Wednesdays from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm in which adult aac users are paired with child aac users using same or similar devices. They practice activities such as conversational turn taking. It is a great social activity for aac users to participate in and meet others who communicate in a similar way! ATEC is located at 1601 E. Saint Andrew Place, Santa Ana, Ca. 92705. Please call ahead to RSVP. Voice: 714.361.6200
TTY/TTD: 714.543.1873

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New FREE app, Language Lab: Core Words

PRC has released a new, FREE app for identifying core vocabulary words and minspeak icons.

Language Lab: Core Words is the first in a series of apps from the Prentke Romich Company based on developmental stages of language development. In stage one, language objectives include directing the behavior of others and the course of any activity with words instead of behavior, expanding the ability to request and direct action, direct using negatives and identifying familiar people by their name. 

This exciting app will address all four language objectives to help early language learners as well as children with expressive language delays who use augmentative and alternative communication methods. The icons for these core vocabulary words that are introduced throughout the app directly correspond with the Unity language system on the communication devices by the Prentke Romich Company but can be easily used by all.

Check out and for more information about stages of language development as well as augmentative communication.

P.S. Don't forget about PRC's iBooks for teaching all kinds of vocabulary (see archived blog entry HERE, scroll to the bottom for a list of teaching targets) .

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nov 9 - Apps for Autism - Foothill Autism Alliance

Spelling: Fill-In-the-Blank

A parent requested materials to help her visual learner with spelling practice using her keyboard. I made this board to help with some kindergarten spelling words.

- Gwendolyn 

60 Minutes - Video: Apps for Autism

 The following script is from "Apps for Autism" which aired on Oct. 23, 2011. (Watch it HERE)

"In the weeks since Steve Jobs died, there has been an outpouring of gratitude from his fans for the way his inventions, like the iPad, changed their lives.
Among the most passionate are parents of children with severe forms of autism, especially those who can't speak and appear hopelessly locked inside themselves. Those parents often say these kids understand more and know more than they're able to communicate. 

Well now, with the iPad and other tablet computers spreading through the autism community, some of those parents are finding out they were right.
It turns out that autistic children show a real interest in the iPad with its easy touch-and-swipe screens. With specially-designed applications, or apps, these computers are helping them communicate and unlocking the isolation of people like 27-year-old Joshua Hood.
Imagine spending your life having conversations like this..."  (read more HERE)

3 Free PRC trainings - San Diego (Oct-Dec)

You Are Invited to Three FREE Workshops!
Kara Bidstrup, M.S., CCC-SLP
Phone:  (800) 262-1984 ext. 472

Hello Everyone,

You are invited to attend three face-to-face trainings at the San Diego Assistive Technology Center.  The following trainings will be held on Thursdays, from 1:00pm - 4:00pm.
Introduction to Unity InserviceOctober 27, 2011
1:00pm - 4:00pm
PRC believes in providing single words for novel communication in addition to pre-programmed sentences and topic/environment specific vocabulary.  This course explains the unique method of organizing and accessing vocabulary for all language levels and addresses the ongoing struggle with the constant need for adding vocabulary.  This course will review Unity 1-hit vocabularies as well as Unity sequenced vocabularies.  Strategies for teaching Unity will be addressed throughout the training.

Overview of Implementation Strategies for AACNovember 10, 2011
1:00pm - 4:00pm
ASHA CEUs:  0.3
This condensed presentation focuses on strategies to teach and promote the use of an augmentative communication system to get students to independently initiate spontaneous, novel utterances rather than simply repeating pre-stored sentences when prompted. The strategies presented will cover a range of communication ages and abilities, including those at the level of emerging language and literacy. The teaching strategies presented are appropriate for a wide variety of devices and programs. This presentation is appropriate for anyone (teacher, SLP, parent, paraprofessional, etc.) working with a student using a communication device.
Devices for this training are not required. If you choose to bring a device or laptop computer, please bring a Vantage, Vantage Lite, Vanguard, ECO, SpringBoard Lite, or laptop computer pre-loaded with PASS Software. All software versions are welcome.

Overview of Basic Programming for ALL PRC DevicesDecember 8, 2011
1:00pm - 4:00pm
ASHA CEUs:  0.3
This course will focus on all PRC devices (SpringBoard Lite, Vantage Lite, Vanguard, and ECO) Participants will receive practice and training using the Unity language system for language representation as well exposure to basic hardware features and "how to" customizing and programming techniques on the devices. Participants will practice the following skills: editing core keys, activity keys, and page keys, hiding/showing keys, creating a new activity row and page, linking of pages, importing of real photos and specifics on completing a memory transfer to back up device contents.
Devices for this training are not required. If you choose to bring a device or laptop computer, please bring a Vantage, Vantage Lite, Vanguard, ECO, SpringBoard Lite, or laptop computer pre-loaded with PASS Software. All software versions are welcome.

Attend This Training

These courses are FREE, but registration is required.  Space is limited to eight people so please register today.  I look forward to seeing you there.

FREE product training seminars will help you get the most from your PRC communication device
Attend the Training that Meets Your Needs. 
It's Easy!
  • Create a personal PRC Account
  • Enter your information once
  • At a glance, view your upcoming trainings and much more.
If you have already created your personal PRC account, simply click here to login.

ASHA CEUs Available

For more information, contact our PRC Seminar Coordinators at (800) 848-8008.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

SCAAC-N Fall Meeting Notes - 10/18/11

There were 15 participants at our Fall 2011 Quarterly meeting, held at Villa Esperanza Services in Pasadena. (To download the presentation handout, CLICK HERE)

Leslie Comstock, SLP, of the Southern California Diagnostic Center shared information on the Diagnostic Center and Evidence Based Practice (EBP) in Autism from her work with the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders.  

The California Diagnostic Centers (3 total in CA, more info HERE) provide district-initiated assessments with agreement with family, on site and on location, as well as free training to school districts state-wide in the areas of collaboration, autism, behavior, video modeling,  peer mediated intervention and many related topics.

The term Evidence Based Practice was defined and specified in terms of what EBP means, why EBP matters, and what EBP is not.  Leslie also referred to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association's (ASHA's) has a set of EBP Systematic Reviews of EBP in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (LINK), and Leslie mentioned that ASHA members can suggest EBP topics for ASHA to review.

Leslie explained the connections in both aims and staffing between the National Standards Project at the May Institute, the National Professional Development Center (NPDC), and the California Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Guidelines. The overarching goal of these projects was to identify research-supported treatments that target the the core symptoms of ASD. In the case of the NPDC's EBP briefs, no comorbid condition could be present in any of the research studies reviewed (for example, if study participants had significant cognitive delays, this would be a disqualifying condition and the NPDC would exclude the study from their review). 700 total studies were evaluated for inclusion in the project as a whole.

There are currently 3 model school sites supported by the NPDC in California:
  • Launch Preschool in Torrence
  • A Riverside county office of ed middle school for moderate to severe ASD
  • Glendora High School, an inclusion program
Each site has a technical assistant who evaluates the school's implementation and selects EBPs to implement.  Leslie was planning to visit Glendora H.S. the very next day.  Their selected EBPs were: video modeling, peer-mediated instruction, and self management.
Preview the NPDC EBP Briefs by clicking HERE. Follow the links to incredible, free downloads of the Brief Package, Overview, Evidence base, Steps for Implementation, Implementation Checklist for each of the EBP interventions such as Functional Communication Training, Peer-Mediated Instruction, PECS, Social Narratives, Visual Supports, and more.

The Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence hosts the companion Autism Internet Modules (30 modules that relate to autism in the classroom, more than the 24 EBPs from NPDC).  There are training modules on speech-generating devices in autism (can be completed in 1.5 hours), functional communication training (1.5 hours), Picture-Exchange Communication (2.5 hours).  Create a free account with Autism Internet Module (click HERE).  After entering a user email and creating a password, scroll down from Module Navigator to Autism in the Classroom.
NPDC for ASD ends in the summer of 2012 summer.  The follow-up organization will be called CAPTAIN and will follow a "trainer of trainers" model by invitation/application only. Their first summer institute for district representatives, regional center representatives, etc. will be held in  the summer of 2013.

Other interesting points to ponder:
  • Over a lifetime, it costs 3.2 million dollars to raise a person with autism to adulthood (citation found for this postulation - Harvard School of Public Health study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine in the spring of 2007).  - from Leslie
  • In the San Gabriel Valley of CA, implementation in the area of AAC is being expanded beyond speech-language pathologists into the realm of assistive technology (AT) specialists, untrained in language development and training. Non-SLPs/non-qualified personnel are even doing assessments.  The SLP needs to be part of the team, and to develop the recommendation and goals, but teacher and instructional aides need to be the ones doing the day to day implementation with support from the language specialists.  - from the Network

Friday, October 21, 2011

Boarkmaker Share for Halloween

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Over 10,000 free boards?
It's a trick, right? Nope. It's a treat! has tons of Halloween materials that are ready-to-use! Read a book about a witch's boiling brew or practice spooky words with a vocabulary game. With 100s of activities surrounding Halloween, your students will want to make this holiday last all month long!
Boardmaker Share
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

AAC teaching curriculum - Pixon modules

There is a need within the field of AAC for a curriculum to guide the systematic development of language for persons using AAC.  The Pixon Project was conducted over a two year period, by Gail VanTatenhove, M.S., CCC-SLP, in order to provide just such a curriculum.
The package (available from the Prentke Romich store, $149.95) provides the following materials:  a curriculum, manual communication boards, a system of pictures, and educational support materials. 
The Pixon Project Kit is a valuable resource for teaching foundational communication using low or high tech AAC. Review this curriculum by downloading this PDF.