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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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

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