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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Thursday, February 28, 2013

CSUN 2013: AAC Virtually

Thursday morning, 2/28/13, Alisha Magilei-Noterman, AAC/AT and Lisa Sandoval, M.S., CCC-SLP presented a session entitled "AAC Virtually" at the CSUN Annual International Technology for Persons with Disabilities Conference in San Diego.   

Their agency, Dynamic Therapy Solutions, has incorporated telepractice into their modes of service delivery in order to maximize their time, geographic reach, clientele (including those that are less mobile or medically fragile), and productivity (less travel time, more service time).

Using the Knowledge Vision platform, Dynamic Therapy Solutions has provided consultation, direct therapy and teaching sessions, and collaboration on an encrypted platform. They have found that using telepractice, AAC "device abandonment" is less likely.

On April 22, 2013, Alisha and Lisa will launch a new endeavor, My Virtual Learning Centers at Keep your eye out for it!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

CSHA 2013 Consumer of the Year - Nathan W. Smith (Arcadia)

Nathan Smith is a young man who attends Arcadia High School, has autism and apraxia, and communicates using AAC. In May of 2012, Nathan was recognized by the Pasadena Foothill Magazine as one of their 50 Student Leaders. He was also nominated for the CA Speech-Language Hearing Associations' state-wide Consumer of the Year award. 
(Spoiler alert: He won! The award will be presented March 9th at the Annual Convention)

Congratulations Nathan!

Take a look at Nathan on video at YouTube:

ASHA Community: AAC and students who can speak?

A very interesting discussion, indeed. I removed individual's names for the sake of privacy. Tune in to ASHA Community's SIG 12 discussion board for more and similar conversations about AAC!
Topic: AAC and students who can speak?

Initial Post:

I have had several situations surface where different SLPs in my school district want me to issue Aug Com devices to students who have intelligible verbal speech. In two of the cases, the students are so language impaired that they are having difficulty expressing their thoughts in a logical way that others can follow. (I think the difficulty lies in severe syntax and vocabulary deficits.)  The other student is a high school student who is not really motivated to interact with people in his environment (at home or school), but can read, write and speak when he chooses to.  In all three cases, the students are able to use their voices and produce intelligible speech. I'm wondering if other AAC people are facing this dilemma?  My initial reaction is to reserve the limited number of aug com devices that we have for students who don't have any other way to express themselves.  Is my thinking too narrow in this respect? It is a philosophical question, I suppose, but I want to know how others are thinking. Thanks, in advance for your input.

Salem OR

This can be a controversial topic in IEP meetings and is certainly based upon one's personal philosophy. That being said, I have had to advocate for students to obtain AAC devices that have intelligible verbal speech for a few reasons:

1. Many students can produce verbal speech that is scripted, but are unable to produce novel language especially in times of high task demand.
2. Not all verbal speech is communicative in nature (e.g. self-stimulatory speech).
3. Some students can formulate novel language, but are unable to initiate independently.

I have seen many students dramatically improve their overall communication with the addition of assistive technology whose necessity was determined by the individual IEP teams.

Oceanside CA
I agree this topic can be very controversial. In my experience there are other factors to consider.

1- Is the device scaffolding the person's communication skills whereby it is augmenting the person's ability to communicate?

2-With the advent of smart phones, IPADs/IPODS, families believe that these devices believe that the device will improve/normalize the student's communication abilities. This may or may not be true. So the question, does the device facilitate interactions or is it the latest gadget.

3-The use of these devices are now being expanded to not simply be a dedication communication device but an educational tool as well.

3-A two to three month trial of a device and appropriate software/APP's has a way of teasing out whether a device is helpful or ultimately be abandoned.

4-The price point of many of these devices is cheap. Often times they are purchased for children as presents. Talking about these devices with the family and teachers to assess their commitment to use also needs to be considered. Access and Opportunity Barriers may be eliminated through this dialog.

Westfield NJ

It is a valid question. We have obtained AAC devices (mid to high tech) for a few students who have understandable speech. Two were apraxic (understandable but with compromised intelligibility) and one who only used 2 word utterances at most to express himself. Our "barometer" for justifying devices were whether or not, given an emergency or medical situation, the student could effectively communicate and actively participate in an exchange to get help. Some scenarios you have to take into account are ones where the referent isn't necessarily available (medical distress in a restaurant, at a ball game, etc) as well as one where the information has to be given in a fast manner, perhaps even in a chaotic environment. In all of those possible scenarios, our students would be very hard-pressed to provide a clear message.  Of course, there are a million other daily social communication scenarios where you could apply the same questions to help you make that decision, but for Medicaid purposes, you have to look at a medical justification, which is a strong justification for a device in and of itself.

In a real life example, I had an adult client in a day program during my graduate work that had a fracture to his leg. He could say clear enough to be understood, "My leg hurts." He repeated this sentence on and off, for 3 days straight, but when asked where exactly or how much it hurt, he could not be specific.. He continued to walk on it throughout the week. On day 4, he was given an Xray, which is when the extent of is injury was revealed and his leg was casted. If he had an AAC way to be more specific (not even necessarily a high end device) would his medical attention have occurred sooner? Given my added 20 years of AAC experience,  my answer would be yes.


I would encourage you to consider the possibility. Do an evaluation to see if trying something on a trial basis would be beneficial. If the evaluation process reveals some benefits, try something out and take data! If you see improvements in communication skills comparing verbal vs. use of AAC strategies, you will have solid information upon which you can base your recommendation.

Tinley Park IL
Why does the automatic assumption for AAC have to be high tech?  Sometimes a low tech option such as core vocabulary provides enough structure for an individual to organize words so he/she can initiate, create novel phrases etc.

Pampa TX

Friday, February 22, 2013

Closing the Gap: Webinar series - Working with Video on the iPad (Dan Herlihy)

Working with Video on the iPad

Monday, February 25, 2013
11:00 zm - 12:30 pm
Pacific Standard Time

Learn the ins and outs of utilizing and working with video on the iPad, including creating, editing, importing into applications, playing video in a variety of formats and exporting video off the iPads, as well as understanding file formats. Learn how to easily import videos and how to use videos in eBook programs, video editors for iPad, free apps to integrate video and effects and more.

DAN HERLIHY, is an Assistive Technology/Technology Resource Specialist, Connective Technology Solutions, Inc., Hoosick, NY.

$55 single-participant fee, Click HERE to participate

AAC BOOT CAMP Sign: Do's and Don'ts

Thanks to Terry Kappe for posting this on our FB page!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Some Positive AAC News Out of Pretoria, South Africa

Pretoria, South Africa, has more than grim news about the prosecution of their Olympic runner. Today, the Director of the University of Pretoria's Centere for AAC hosts an inagural address today entitled:

“A Systemic Perspective on AAC Intervention: Moving Towards Evidence-based Practice” 
By Professor Juan Bornman, Director
Date: 21 February 2013
Time: 18:00 for 18:30
Place: Senate Hall, Main Campus, University of Pretoria

The CAAC has a number of projects running, including university training programs in the area of AAC as well as workshops - in case you're ever in the area.  Their tag line "Shifting Horizons in Disability" is quite an inspiring one. Take a look at more positivity they are spreading:

Resource Manual from the CAAC
Hot off the press! (2012) and available for order, email HERE.

You can watch the CAAC's latest video on You-tube about their Fofa AAC Youth Empowerment Project from the Centre for AAC at the following link:
 Downloads from the CAAC
To download some presentation/topics done during the previous skillshops please click on the document(s) below.

Podcast - Talk Radio 702: David O’ Sullivan interviews the CAAC’s past director, Priscilla Kershaw
Listen to the podcast
Click here

More About the Centre for AAC can be found at THIS LINK.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Conference: CSUN AT Conference (SCAAC session, March 1)

Gwendolyn Meier, SLP, MT will present "Autism: Communication Options Using the iPad" at the 28th Annual CSUN Conference (held in San Diego each year)

Lots of ideas and video for using free and low cost apps to support interaction for even the earliest communicators. Hope to see some of you then! 


Session schedule: Friday, March 1 from 4:20-5:20pm, Ford AB, 3rd floor. 

Extended Abstract: The iPad has revolutionized AAC options for individuals with autism by bringing the expense of traditional speech generating devices into a much more accessible range.  Parents and professionals alike are eager to see if this new tool might be a catalyst for change in communication abilities of their nonverbal child or adult with autism. While there is no substitute for a thorough AAC evaluation and implementation by an experienced professional, this presentation will discuss and demonstrate how free and low-cost apps can be used to support the development of interaction skills across a broad spectrum of linguistic complexity.

Conference, Early Early Bird Reg: "Three Dinemsional Thinking in ASD" (4/12-14)

(Not directly related to AAC...but very exciting for autism-related professionals in the Pasadena area. Early Early Bird rates through Feb 18 only!)

The Profectum Foundation's 1st International Conference (go to their website, HERE)

Three Dimensional Thinkingin Autism and Stress Related Disorders
Expanding Frontiers to Advance Development for Children Across the Lifespan

April 12 - 14, 2013
Pasadena Convention Center300 East Green Street - Pasadena, California

Why attend this ground breaking conference? (from Profectum)
  • To view the multiple dimensions of development that build lifelong competencies for relating, thinking, feeling and functioning.
  • To apply new research to practical ideas you can implement to benefit your children and their families.
  • To learn new ways to deal with stress - yours, your children and their families – to increase resilience.
  • To help young adults with an ASD or other special needs build for their future –by connecting their passions to realize dreams.
  • To honor T. Berry Brazelton, MD as Profectum’s Inaugural Humanitarian Award recipient.
  • To meet and network with colleagues, friends and parents dedicated to the progress of every individual they reach and meet kids and young adults living successfully with an ASD. 
(Link to the full brochure, HERE)
More about the Profectum Foundation:
Profectum comes from the Latin for "advancement or progress,” and Profectum Foundation is dedicated to advancing the development of all children, adolescents and adults with autism and special needs. Profectum recognizes the reality that parents, early intervention programs and schools currently use a number of different intervention approaches – each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses in addressing an individual’s needs.  Our DIR®-Foundational Capacities for Development approach provides the basis for parents, multidisciplinary professionals and paraprofessionals working with individuals on the autism spectrum to identify an individual’s needs and bring to bear the best tools and approaches to help address such needs – be it DIR®/Floortime to build the foundational skills or ABA, visual-spatial work, ESDM (EarlyStart Denver Model) or others

Friday, February 15, 2013

Minspeak E-Newsletter, Issue 67

Send to Friend
February 15, 2013

  • I Have A Question: “How can I connect with others who use Minspeak and support people who use Minspeak?” In today’s world, more and more people connect through social media. Try interacting with others through the Minspeak Facebook page Get connected today.

  • Core in the Classroom: During Social Studies, students talk about history, geography, government, civics, and economics. Use Civics 101 to have nine key concepts from a civics lesson defined with core vocabulary.

  • The Pixon Project: Pixons can be used as teaching materials for picturing the metaphors behind Unity® icon sequences. The word for this week is “love.” Compare the Pixon to the icon sequence . Teach the meaning of the word “love” using props, such as red hearts and a toy baby with a blanket. Re-enact hugging the baby and talking about “love” as an action. Look at any Valentines the student received. Make a list of people that the student loves and people who love the student, with examples of what people do to show their love, like hugging, saying nice things, and helping them.

  • Spotlight on PALSS: Go to the Minspeak website for the 2013 schedule and registration materials.

Fantastic Turn Out! SCAAC-N Winter Quarterly Meeting Notes

Thank you to all 30 of our extended So-Cal AAC Network for attending our Winter Quarterly Meeting at Villa Esperanza Services in Pasadena on Wednesday, February 13. 
The presentation "AAC, the iPad and Autism: Moving Beyond Choice-Making," by Terry Kappe, SLP, and Gwendolyn Meier, SLP, MT was well received and sparked lively discussion. 
Here is a LINK to the handout from Wednesday's presentation.
DOWNLOAD the handout, HERE

This session was originally complied for presentation at the annual CSHA convention in Long Beach, CA. 

The entire slideshow will be posted on SlideShare and linked to this blog following that session on March 8.