AAC in the classroom

ac6bf0f38ad2aee7adc177f9fd4bd2ccDo you ever feel like this? It is sometimes difficult to convince classroom teachers that it is necessary for kiddos to have access to their AAC device at all times. There are several factors that can lead teachers to believe that access is not essential. Sometimes it just falls to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list. Other times, people may think it is an appropriate “punishment” to take away a child’s device. Still other times, the child has used the device to self-stimulate and alienated listeners to the point that purposeful communication is ignored. These are just a few of the pitfalls associated with establishing functional, purposeful use of an AAC device within the classroom setting.

The first step to overcoming these ‘speed bumps’ is to identify the problem (or combination of problems). Once you know the WHY you can tackle the solution. Cindy sent this poster that can be printed (preferably on card stock), laminated (or covered in clear contact paper which lasts longer), and posted in classrooms as a visual reminder to help facilitate implementation of AAC devices in the classroom.

What road blocks have you encountered? What solutions have you found?


One thought on “AAC in the classroom

  1. Kim says:

    I think because it’s too much planning and work. It is hard, esp with the little ones to prepare specific lessons and program or get pictures ready for everything. Then you say, make a board that can be accessible for most lessons. It’s kinda hard to do main idea or character ? unless you just have a yes or no option which as you know is 50/50. I’ve been perplexed with this issue for over 16 years. I remember Nancy Cissell telling me (you ‘more experienced folks’- not older- 🙂 may remember too…you have to be a “salesman” and sell them on the fact your product/book/device will help the teacher’s or/and assistant’s life easier. And it’s hard to come in 1-2 x a week and say…”How’s that AAC device or even low tech picture book working out?” Not always…but over the years I have gotten the impression that some low incidence teachers—FMD—MD…MSD– whatever the name may be now kind of feel like its the SLP’s job for the communication device/pix book. Not that it’s NOT our job…but that word OUR job means something….it’s not just a communication goal with objectives to communicate that SLPs are to implement…what about the other days and hours we aren’t in there??? I know everyone has had a year or a time or two 🙂 where it’s speech time and you dust the AAC device off the shelf or ask the teacher where the communication book is and they don’t know. Yep, we have all been there. And I know these low incidence teachers have to worry with medication, feeding, toileting, making sure kids don’t run out on the street (has really happened) or get their keys, turn on the car and drive and wreck it (has really happened)…no joke…so I get they have the overall mentality of KEEP THEM SAFE. My whole thought is that…when is child is truly non verbal….everything they do will involve communication of some sort. So even though I write my own goal and objectives sometimes depending on how the IEP goals have been written or ask the teacher if I can tweak one of their goals/objectives a little…and take my data and GRAPH :)….I think…this isn’t MY goal…it’s OUR goal all the time. Lately I have tried to tweak academic goals teachers are expected to write to include using ACC (with whatever parameters). Most really should be anyway…right? I mean the objective should say do this “using AAC”. I don’t understand the idea that I need to write a separate communication goal, but to embed it within the academic and self-help and all the other ones. I think that kind of creates a sort of OUR goals.

    On another note, it was almost easier when kids did not use as much technology for recreation (know I am just old). But it’s true. Students may access and ipad or whatever to “play” on but then it’s a toy and not a communication device. And I know teachers, assistants, even parents can be so overwhelmed that they may give the device to the student to keep them occupied (which in my opinion kills the whole meaningfulness of it as communication). I find myself going low tech often with Board Maker pictures because they don’t look at it as a toy as much. And with young kids, a lot of times you need to start there…but then brings in the lack of motivation because it’s not as exciting as technical devices. I’m not sure I’ve answered anything, but sharing thoughts and frustrations do help. I try to build a good relationship with the teachers and kind of mention on the fly (in a nice way)…that WE are defeating ourselves if WE only use AAC every once in a while. It has to be consistent. I have told many parents and teachers over the years to ‘sabotage’ their environment to make their kids use pictures (paired with verbalizations when appropriate) to stress the necessity and purpose of it. But then if you do it sometimes, then sometimes just get too tired and don’t care…what message does that send the child? Here comes that mean lady who makes me touch pictures to get things when usually I am just given it or grab it…the SLP becomes the MEAN one…..anyway…my thoughts for today…Happy Friday Speech World!

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