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, June 25, 2012

Selecting Skills to Teach Communication Partners

From Cathy Binger and Jennifer Kent-Walsh in their presentation at the ASHA Partner Instruction in AAC Online Conference on Partner Instruction in AAC (6/13-25/12)
Some highlights from this great (!) presentation:

--> Common Problems With Partner Skill Selection
  • Focusing on what is ‘wrong’ with the partner instead of improving client behaviors
  • Trying to change too many partner behaviors at once
  • Trying to change too many client behaviors at once
  • Trying to change client and/or partner behaviors in too many settings or situations at once
  • Failing to link changes in partner behaviors to identifiable, measurable changes in the client
--> Direct instruction (to partners) coupled with hands-on practice with the client is identified by partners as the most desired learning mode (this moves new information from the level of "book knowledge" toward integrating it as a new partner skill)

--> Five Guidelines for Selecting Partner Skills to Target/Teach
(1) Focus on client outcomes during instructional sessions with partners
(2) Identify the partner techniques that will result in the desired client skills
(3) Select client and partner skills that change quickly and are easy to identify and quantify
(4) Practice the selected partner techniques with the client before teaching it to the partner
(5) Start small; expand after achieving initial success 

--> Begin with Highly Specific Contexts (activity 10-15 min, MAX)

--> Moving Toward Generalization
• Once the partner has mastered one context, THEN select additional contexts

  • Continue to select specific contexts
  • Continue to limit use of technique in new contexts (activities to last no more than 10–15 minutes)
  • Keep expanding as the partner builds his or her success

Friday, June 15, 2012

Autism Conference - SCAAC-N Presents!

SCAAC-N's own, Gwendolyn Meier, will present on Communication Via the iPad 
This August 10 at the 7th Annual "Back to School & More" Conference!

Autism Conferences of America

7th Annual "Back to School & More" Autism/Asperger's Conference
The Most Comprehensive Autism Conference Series in Southern California!
August 10-11, 2012 | Pasadena Convention Center 
Featuring Keynotes Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP and Jed Baker, PhD
and over 20 other great local and national speakers!
The conference is open to parents, professionals, individuals on the spectrum and interested community members. Attendees  will have an opportunity to learn suggestions on therapy, treatment, and practical strategies to help your child/student/client with Autism. Come join us for a very packed 2 day conference. You do not want to miss it! Read more.        

Featured Track

10:45 - 12:15 p.m. - Movie Time Social Learning: Watching Movies to Build Social Understanding- Anna Vagin, PhD.
Movie Time Social Learning teaches social cognition concepts using popular movies. Levels and tasks appropriate for preschool through high school children will be outlined, as well as crucial nonverbal, visual and verbal supports. Multiple video clips will show examples of mediating strategies as well as individual and group movie work.

Anna Vagin, Ph.D. is a licensed speech/language pathologist. She received her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, writing her dissertation on "Mother-Child Interaction in Children with Bilateral Cleft Lip and Palate." Her work focuses on social cognitive abilities of children from 6 months-high school. She is the author of Movie Time Social Learning.

1:30 - 2:15 p.m. - Communication Options Using the iPad- Gwendolyn Meier, M.A., CCC-SLP, MT-BC
Tablet computers have revolutionized augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) options for individuals with autism. There are more than 100 communication apps available for Apple iPad, and the decision-making process can be a challenge. Basic, intermediate, and full-featured communication apps for the iPad will be demonstrated and reviewed for their features, merits and drawbacks.

As director of the Villa Esperanza Services' Speech and Language Center, Gwendolyn Meier specializes in augmentative and alternative communication in autism. In 2010, Gwendolyn co-founded the Southern California AAC Network and in 2012 received an Outstanding Achievement award from the California Speech-Language Hearing Association for supporting SLPs who use AAC.

2:15 - 3: 00 p.m. - Mysterious Power of Music- Gwendolyn Meier, M.A., CCC-SLP, MT-BC
Why does that song make my child's face light up? How can I get my class to focus on a group lesson? Why does he understand only when I sing it? Individuals with autism are often limited in their passions, yet a love of music and song is common. This presentation will outline ten helpful elements inherent in music that provide aid to autistic learners' brains and ideas of how to make the most of them.

Gwendolyn Meier is a speech-language pathologist and board-certified music therapist who has used music and song to build social and communication skills in individuals with autism and related disorders over thirteen years. She speaks extensively on the power of music as a tool in early childhood and special education settings.

3:30 - 4:15 p.m. - What's the Next Step - Best Step towards Inclusion - Barbara Palilis, MA
Circle of Friends, The Path to Inclusion (CoF) addresses the segregation faced by students with special needs in their educational and social environment. CoF is a multi-layered approach to bringing a better understanding and acceptance of differences to all campuses and into community life. It provides opportunities to improve social language and problem solving skills by building friendships with trained non-disabled peers. Circle of Friends makes a significantly positive impact on the campus climate and decreases bullying.

Barbara Palilis received her Master's degree in Communication Disorders from USC and worked as a Speech/Language Pathologist in the schools for 25 years. She created Circle of Friends, an inclusion program for students of all ages with disabilities.  It changed lives in such a profound way that a non-profit was created to bring this program nationwide.

4:15 - 5:00 p.m. - Comprehensive Care on a Budget, in the Public Schools - Maria Sasaki Reilly, M.P.H., BCBA
In today's economic crunch, a public school district and NPA have joined together to provide a comprehensive social skills program in the public school system, for children with mid to high-functioning Autism. The program merges evidence-based practices such as Applied Behavior Analysis, social skills groups, and self-monitoring, with the emerging practice of Social Thinking. Learn about how the program was developed and continues to be monitored, as well as future directions for the program.

Maria is a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA), working with children with Autism and related disabilities. She is the co-founder of The Reilly Behavioral Group, LLC, and an adjunct faculty member at the University of West Florida, where she teaches courses in Applied Behavior Analysis.
Featured Keynotes: 

Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP
Unlocking the Abilities in Children with Autism and Asperger's Using a Unique, Three -Pronged Approach  
Dianne Craft holds a Masters Degree in Special Education and is a Certified Natural Health Professional. In this dual role as educator and nutritionist, Dianne has had many unique experiences working with children on the Autism spectrum. In addition to consulting with Colorado schools, she has been president of the Denver consulting firm, Child Diagnostics, Inc. for the past 14 years, and has presented her educational and nutritional approaches nationally. She has authored the Brain Integration Therapy Manual and the Right Brain Reading Program and has developed a step by step nutritional program for children called The Biology of Behavior. 

Additional Sessions with Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP
  • Brain Integration Therapy: Improving Hemispheric Connections
  • Right Brain Teaching Strategies: Training the Student's Photographic Memory
  • The Biology of Learning and Behavior: Kids Act How They Feel
StratJed Bakeregies to Teach Social Skills, Increase Peer Acceptance, and Reduce Bull ying and Challenging Behaviors 
Jed Baker, Ph.D. is the director of the Social Skills Training Project, a private organization serving individuals with autism and social communication problems. He also directs social skills training for Millburn Public Schools in New Jersey. His work has also been featured on ABC World News, Nightline, the CBS Early Show, and the Discovery Health Channel. He is an award winning author of five books: Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Aspergers Syndrome and Social Communication Problems, Preparing for Life: The Complete Handbook for the Transition to Adulthood for Those with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome, The Social Skills Picture Book, The Social Skills Picture Book for High School and Beyond, and No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out-of-Control Behavior.

Additional Sessions with Jed Baker, PhD
  • No More Meltdowns
  • Key Components of Social Skills Training
  • Play, Empathy, Friendship, Dating, and Employment Readiness

Additional Tracks Include:

Teen/Adult Track
Biomedical Track

Conference Location 
Pasadena Convention Center
300 East Green Street
Pasadena, CA 91101
Continuing Education Units (CEUs) 
CEUs for professional development are available for the following professionals (up to 7 contact hours/day).  
  • (SLPs) Speech Language Pathologist and Audiologist, CA SLP-Audiologist Board PDP #230 
  • Nursing, CA Board of Registered Nursing PDP #15094 
  • MFT- Marriage and Family Therapists and LCSW - Licensed Clinical Social Workers, CA Board of Behavioral Sciences PCE #4429
Exhibitors and Advertising 

Exhibitors are encouraged to submit their exhibitor application early!
Phone/Fax 562-804-8790 or E-Mail  

The Westin
(official conference hotel) - $99/night*
191 North Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101
 Phone: (626) 792-2727
*Must mention  2012 Autism/Asperger's Conference to get preferred rate. Subject to availability, book rooms by July 9th for best rate. 
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Minspeak E-Newsletter, Issue 51

Send to Friend
June 15, 2012
  • Pixon Teaching Tip: Provide a hands-on experience to teach the Pixon for “what”. The Pixon features a TV with a red question mark on the screen. Print out the Pixon for “what” along with pictures for various TV shows that are popular or preferred by the person. Size the pictures of the TV shows to fit onto the screen of the TV on the Pixon picture. Talk about “what” you like to watch, adding the picture of the show to the TV. This activity helps focus on both the idea of “what” and question mark, which is featured in the picture. Expand the context of the word “what” to talk about what is happening (verbs) or what products might be promoted in the commercials (nouns). Further de-contextualize the meaning of “what” outside of TV watching activities (e.g., what to eat, what to do after school, etc.)

  • Intervention Planning: Create more communication opportunities this week to encourage your person using Minspeak to ask “what” questions, combining “what” with an action word or noun (e.g., what time, what thing, what do, what see, what want).

  • Teaching Materials Exchange: June is the month to remember our fathers. Use the Father’s Day book and read it with your dad! The book is coded with Pixons and icon sequences from Unity®45, Unity®60, Unity®84, and Unity®144.

  • Pittsburgh Language Seminar Series: The next seminar series is in September (11th-13th) and features Caroline Musselwhite as the guest speaker. October (16-18) will feature Gail Van Tatenhove. Registration is limited to 25 people. To register, contact Renee McGough at 412-885-8541 x105 or at

  • Announcements: Don’t forget to register for the ISAAC conference!
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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Thursday, June 14, 2012

LAMP workshop - Aug 23, Santa Cruz, CA

As we look ahead to the 2012/2013 school year, we would like to personally invite you to attend one of our already scheduled LAMP workshops, as listed below, or visit our website frequently,, to get an up-to-date listing of available trainings. If you do not see a workshop listed close to you, and would be interested in hosting a workshop, submit a request online, at .
Mark your calendars to attend, and register today!!
The Center for AAC and Autism offers workshops for participants to receive a detailed program of the LAMP (Language Acquisition through Motor Planning) treatment approach and learn why its emphasis on consistent motor plans is uniquely suited to children with autism. This interactive course entails an indepth discussion of the components, led by a clinician who works daily implementing AAC with children with autism. Time will be allotted for a question and answer session with the trainer. Register today, so you don't miss out!
Join our AAC and Autism community...find us on Facebook, for implementation strategies, myths and misconceptions of AAC, and personal successes and triumphs!!

August 23, 2012Santa Cruz, CA
Presented by: John Halloran, M.S., CCC-SLP

ASHA CEUs are available for all workshops. Please check website for registration information and applicable fees.
Already attended a LAMP workshop? Want to know more about implementing LAMP with PRC's Vantage Lite? Attend a FREE e-training for additional ASHA CEUs!!
E-training dates and times are located at:

Enroll today!!

Attendance in a face-to-face LAMP workshop is required,
prior to attending an e-training.

Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (1.5 days)

This comprehensive LAMP training program is designed for SLPs, family members, and therapists who want to learn new AAC skills and strategies that can enhance the lives of ASD individuals. The workshop examines the current research and the history of augmenting speech for people with ASD. Participants will study communication assessment and augmentative implementation procedures, with an emphasis on the use of multi-modal communication systems.

Prior to this workshop, the trainer, also a licensed SLP, will work with three clients from the hosting facility, and videotape the consultations. These videos will be used throughout the workshop to facilitate discussion and point out key elements of the therapy approach.

Putting LAMP to Work: AAC Strategies to Promote Communication (1 day)

This workshop will cover the role of readiness to learn and share focus in the implementation of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The importance of using motor patterning to develop motor automaticity and implementation strategies for teaching children with ASD to use AAC will be discussed.

All participants will receive a complimentary copy of the LAMP Training Manual, which provides detailed instruction on using leading AAC devices to encourage the development of communication among those with ASD.

The new Center for AAC and Autism, online at
 , is dedicated to helping children with autism learn to communicate through the power of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices.

The Center for AAC and Autism was developed to support clinical research aimed at the effective implementation of AAC within the autism arena; facilitate sharing of best practices and success stories among clinicians and families; and teach AAC strategies for promoting language development in those with autism through Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP).

To learn more about the Center for AAC and Autism, please visit:, or call toll-free at (866) 998-1726.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Conference Open! Partner Instruction in AAC

It's not too late! (or maybe it is...I just don't know) Here's a snippet of the topics that lie ahead:

GREAT Plenary/Kick-Off session with Jennifer Kent-Walsh and Cathy Binger! Take advantage of these potential continuing ed units through ASHA (26 or so, at last count!).  Great stuff.  LINK HERE

Monday, June 4, 2012

Partner Instruction in AAC: Early Bird ends today!

Strategies for Building Circles of SupportPartner Instruction in AAC - Online Conference

An online conference for speech-language pathologists

Wednesday, June 13 – 
Monday, June 25, 2012
Developed in cooperation with ASHA Special Interest Group 12, Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Conference Co-chairs:
Cathy Binger, PhD, CCC-SLP
Jennifer Kent-Walsh, PhD, CCC-SLP
Enhance the communication potential of your clients who use AAC by working effectively with their families, friends, caregivers, and other communication partners.
This intensive, interactive online conference takes place from June 13–25. During this time, you'll view recorded lectures available on demand, participate in live, text-based "chats" with presenters, and earn up to 2.6 ASHA CEUs (26 professional development hours).

Now Available

Sunday, June 3, 2012

ASHA eLearning Course Catalog: AAC Topics

(LINK HERE) Functional Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Approaches for Severe Aphasia: An Introduction Self-study Web Workshop. Earn 0.1 ASHA CEUs. Program expiration date: 4/10/2014. 

Recent Offerings (Courses expired 6/2/2012)  

My personal review - Excellent content, informative for entry level clinicians and those in need of a specific, practical, and professionally delivered refresher on getting started and moving forward in early AAC development. I sincerely hope that these will be offered again in the future!

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for School-Age Children With Intellectual Disabilities: Basic Strategies for Immediate Results.  0.1 ASHA CEUs (content from: Krista M. Wilkinson, PhD Ellen Kravitz, MS, CCC- SLP)
Lesson One: Basics
     • Definition of AAC
     • Multi-modal communication
     • Today versus tomorrow goals
Lesson Two: Continuum of Communication Independence with Case Studies
     • Emerging: Emily
     • Context-dependent: Max
     • Today Goals: Transitions and comprehension
     • Today Goals: Functions (wants/needs, information, social closeness, etiquette)
     • Today Goals: Participation and literacy

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for School-Age Children With Intellectual Disabilities: Strategies for Long-Term Intervention. 0.1 ASHA CEUs (content from: Krista M. Wilkinson, PhD Ellen Kravitz, MS, CCC- SLP)
I. Introduction
     • Definition of AAC
     • Multi-modal Communication
     • Technology Issues
     • Today Versus Tomorrow Goals
     • Continuum of Communication Independence
II. Case Study: Emerging Communicator (Emily)
     • Today and Tomorrow Goals
     • Modeling, Symbols and Vocabulary
III. Case Study: Context-Dependent Communicator (Max)
     • Today and Tomorrow Goals
     • Vocabulary, Symbols and Access
IV. Summary