Getting the Most Out of AAC Therapy & Assessments — Remotely! (Part 1)

As many of us know too well, people who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices have been deeply affected by the pandemic, and by distance learning in particular. While many speech therapists may be familiar with the more common speech apps like Proloquo, many are not familiar enough with other programs and devices, which can be difficult for parents and school staff to program and facilitate on their own. A woman with long blonde hair, wearing an off-shoulder blue and white striped blouse, stands in front of a stand of bougainvillea.

AAC is also particularly challenging to use over Zoom and video — and this has caused backlogs and waitlists for many children who need AAC assessments and therapy and have not been able to get them. When LA–based speech and language pathologist Rachel Madel (MA, CCC-SLP), who specializes in AAC and working with children with autism, realized that a lot of therapists who aren’t AAC specialists are under the impression that they can’t do an AAC assessment or get a child started with a device remotely, she developed AAC Ally, a self-paced course to help SLPs with remote AAC assessments and treatment.

We reached out to Madel to talk about how we as parents can support our kids during remote AAC assessments, how we can help them get the treatment they need, and what best practices exist for remote AAC assessments and therapy. As you’ll see from the following video clips, she has a lot of advice to share. (And don’t miss her Talking with Tech podcast, which has more than 150 episodes on everything from using AAC with Alexa to best practices for balancing AAC with a child who uses multimodal communication to digital storytelling.) 

The first installment of this four-part video series focuses on the benefits of remote AAC assessments and therapy, and why you shouldn’t wait until kids are back in brick-and-mortar school to get them working on their communication skills. Stay tuned for tips and strategies for making the most of virtual AAC sessions, how to get the support your child needs, and progress monitoring and goals!


  What are some of the benefits of remote assessments, and how can we make sure they’re effective?



See the full-size video here.



  Can you share some strategies to support kids in making real progress with virtual therapy?



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  What advice do you have for families who are struggling with virtual therapy?



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  Collective wisdom: tips & strategies from parents!


We asked Undivided parents whose children use AAC devices to share their real-world advice with us. We'll be passing along their hard-won tips and wisdom throughout this series.


Start small: “Work on one phrase or word per day to incorporate it into your schedule. If you feel over-whelmed with the device, your child will pick up on that.”  — Special X member Leeza

Be patient: “My advice is to not be hard on yourself or your kid. It’s a long game, not a short one. Pace yourself. Don’t expect instant results. It takes time, and however much time it takes, well, that’s what it takes!” — Special X member Gemina

Strategize your energy: “Focus on giving your child what they need in small doses you can control and build from there.”   — Special X member Anu



We’d love to know what’s working and not working for your child during remote AAC sessions! And be sure to stay tuned for more on how to get the most out of virtual AAC therapy!

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