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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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pasadena NOW: Villa Esperanza!

Villa Esperanza’s Tech-savvy Speech and Language Center Uses Innovative Ipad Applications

Villa's Hjelte-Phillips Speech and Language Center, under the direction of Gwendolyn Meier is dedicated to giving a voice to individuals who are nonverbal

Published: Monday, August 6, 2012 | 12:35 PM

Samantha, a Villa student, also works with Gwendolyn Meier on gaining communication skills using the Ipad.

Vanessa is a high school student at Villa Esperanza Services’ School located in Pasadena.
She doesn’t speak, but instead spent the first 16 years of her life communicating primarily by flipping her hand at the side of her leg to say “Hi,” waving her hand at her waist when she needed to go to the restroom, and screaming while bouncing up and down in her seat both when excited and when distressed.

Villa’s speech and language clinicians worked with Vanessa for years to teach and develop recognition and pointing skills so that she could utilize pictures to help her communicate. Once she had gained some basic skills, an evaluation revealed that Vanessa could benefit from assistive technology in the form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).

Villa Esperanza Services knows the importance of staying current with the latest technologies. Villa’s Hjelte-Phillips Speech and Language Center, under the direction of Gwendolyn Meier, MA, CCC-SLP, MT-BC, is dedicated to giving a voice to individuals who are nonverbal; and they are doing so at the touch of a screen. Using “apps” for the iPad and iPod, Villa’s clinicians are helping individuals with autism across a broad spectrum of communication and educational challenges.
Due to the prevalence and relative affordability of the iPad, more students than ever before are being assessed for computer-based augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems.

Students with autism often become adept with the touch screen interface by playing games and videos on family iPhones, iPods and iPads. These basic skills can often be shaped into meaningful communication when an appropriate app and treatment plan are implemented by a trained AAC professional. Before the iPad, the expense of traditional, high tech speech-generating devices for nonverbal individuals (e.g., $4,000-8,000) prevented many with autism from accessing these technologies. These days, the purchase of an iPad and appropriate communication apps can cost as little as $600.

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