Getting the Most Out of Remote AAC Therapy & Assessments — Part 3

Getting the Support You Need

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. But that doesn’t mean that virtual AAC therapies and assessments aren’t possible. On the contrary! We sat down with LA–based speech and language pathologist Rachel Madel (MA, CCC-SLP), who specializes in AAC and working with children with autism, to find out how we can get our kids the support they need.

In this third installment of our four-part video interview, we look at what resources exist for families who don't have access to a therapist who is well-versed in AAC, what kinds of devices we should advocate for, and tips for families who are learning a new device alongside their child. Be sure to check out part 1 of this series, which focuses on the benefits of remote AAC assessments and therapy, and part 2, which covers how to make virtual AAC therapy sessions more fun and engaging, what a great virtual session should look like, and how to be better communication partners for our kids.

 If a family doesn’t have access to a therapist who is well versed in AAC and is not getting the support they need, what resources are out there?



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 What kinds of devices should we advocate for? Can families trial a device remotely?



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 What are your tips for families who are learning to use a new device (especially eye-gaze technology) alongside their child?



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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.

 Model for your child and make it personal: “I am not a tech person at all, and I really fought using the device. Take the time to pick it up and model for your child. I found starting out really small to be the best way: start with a couple words at a time and build from there. I also had to give up the idea that we would immediately use it all the time. Learn to add your own photos on the AAC; it makes it that much more personal for everyone.”  — Special X member Gemina       Practice: “This is a new habit that you and your child will have to learn. As the parent, you are teaching your child how to use it through modeling, so the better you can navigate the device and software, the better you can teach your child. That being said, it’s okay for your child to see you make a mistake on the device. If you push the wrong button, show them how to correct it and try again. This will show them that the AAC device is not about right or wrong answers; it's about communicating.” — Special X member Leeza     Observe, teach, and advocate: “Be really honest about what motivates your child, and capitalize on that. If you don't think anything motivates them, just observe them during the day and write down what they do, what they get upset about, and what they want. Include your favorite therapist in goal acquisition, and advocate for your child with people who don’t get it. Start to teach people to solve their own challenges with your child and AAC so that more people take ownership over your child’s progress.” — Special X member Anu

Stay tuned for our last installment on progress monitoring and goals!

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