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Communication Opportunities for Students using Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) Jennie Rankin, Registered Speech-Language Pathologist (Alternative.

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Presentation on theme: "Communication Opportunities for Students using Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) Jennie Rankin, Registered Speech-Language Pathologist (Alternative."— Presentation transcript:

1 Communication Opportunities for Students using Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) Jennie Rankin, Registered Speech-Language Pathologist (Alternative and Augmentative Communication) Heather Campbell, Computer Support Worker 2014-2015

2 Data Outcomes Celebrations Challenges Improvements in Student Learning Next Steps Introduction and Inq uiry Question Baseline Data Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 2B

3 Starting Point We noticed that students with communication differences often experience less opportunities and more isolation than other students. We chose six students who use alternative and augmentative communication as our focus group. Two main themes of need were identified as barriers: greetings and directing others’ attention to something of interest. Inquiry Question Does an intentional, structured and individualized approach to create more opportunities for meaningful connections between students who have communication differences with each other and other students positively affect everyone's school experience? Norms of Collaboration When we value: It looks like this… Relationships- valuing connection between people Knowledge/Understanding- actively growing knowledge of how to communicate meaningfully with students who have communication differences Student-centered - following and supporting students’ leads Empowered students- lasting skills, confidence, willingness, valuing self, mutual benefit Persistence - trying different ways if needed Patience- being okay with waiting and a slower pace Caring/Compassion- valuing a person for who they are

4 Baseline Data Our data tracking forms were set up to track interactions during three sessions (days). An example was provided for each. The incidences of communication were to be noted with tally marks and additional information (number of communication turns taken by the student, location of interaction, type/function of communication act, actual words/sounds/signs/AAC messages produced).

5 Stage 1 We chose the following social communication targets for each of the students. Each was determined by looking at patterns in their current communication, and deciding what might increase the number, length or quality of interactions with peers. The target was defined for the teams and modeling of both teaching and supporting the student in doing the communication target were done. Targets: L - gaining the attention of others (using “talker” or voice) R – “LOOK” + noun (using “talker) M – initiating a conversation with a peer S - respond to others’ greeting of hi and bye independently A – saying “LOOK” (using “talker” or voice) E – not partaking due to up and coming surgery This step involved four parts: Stage 1 data form Demonstration (with Jennie) Practice with toy (two days) Check in/trouble shoot with Heather Practice with peer (two days)

6 Stage 2 After reviewing and discussing data and observations from stage 1, we refined the target for one of the students. We simplified the process of teaching, practice and data collection. New materials were created. Amended Target R – “LOOK” + comment, i.e. “I like it” (using Talker) This stage involved three parts: A daily reminder to the student An explanation to the student’s community about their communication target Tracking of occurrences on five out of nine days Stage 2 data form Example of text to community people:

7 Stage 2B We decided that a longer period of time was needed for the students to be able to work on their targets. This stage involved no revisions to targets. Reminders of the target to the student occurred on a daily basis. The number of occurrences was tallied on one day at the end of this stage. EAs were asked to reflect on their impressions of skill development in their students. Stage 2b data form

8 Data Outcomes Four out of five students showed an increase in their communication target, both in frequency and independence. One out of five students defined a new communication target for herself. Five out of five EAs reported and were observed to be more aware of their student’s communication needs, as well as their current skills and targets. The EAs were therefore more able to support their student’s growth and learning. Other school adults also demonstrated a greater understanding of their student’s communication targets and the related benefit of increasing communication opportunities.

9 General Celebrations Increase of communication skills in students leading to more interaction opportunities Greater enthusiasm and increased discussion between EAs supporting students with communication differences Increased comfort level; investment and excitement Lots of individual stories of celebration and/or achievement Kids were shining and enjoying the interactions! Specific Celebrations EA for L and EA for M reflected on the benefit of having this target in the forefront of their minds while supporting the student throughout the day. The physiotherapist commented at a staff meeting “Oh, that’s why all of the kids have been saying “look” out there” (paraphrased). Because of the increased communication opportunities (greeting at the door, receiving gym balls in container) as part of her day, S had many more peer interactions. Peers took more time during other times of the day to relate to her. M reflected to her EA on what was working well for her interactions with peers and made choices based on her awareness.

10 Challenges We questioned who should be taking data. EAs sometimes found it challenging to both support their student and track data. They reflected that finding time to do the reporting in their busy week was difficult. We were conscious of asking EAs to do more tasks on top of their existing responsibilities. We found it a challenge to simplify the data form in order to get the info that was needed without taxing the EAs. (Note: all EAs participated cheerfully.) We observed how extended absences (one student had a major surgery) adversely affected communication opportunities and learning. We found there was never enough time to complete all the work that needed to be done during PLC time.

11 Improvements in Student Learning Our students have been creating new communication opportunities with their target skills. An increased ability by EAs to identify and observe specific communicative acts, and support further skill development. Peers were shown to have more skills in either initiating communication with the student or responding to the student. Increase of knowledge and excitement in community of EAs and teachers supporting students with communication differences. Greater number of interaction opportunities for our students = success and satisfaction.

12 Next Steps Expand – types of targets, number involved students – for a continuation of this PLC project next year. Figure out a way to bring students using Talkers together to form a community of device users that will support and encourage one another. (Perhaps a Friday afternoon group to both build on skills and provide opportunities for friendships?) Share ideas with EAs, teachers and administrators receiving students with communication differences. Increase awareness in the general student population. Materials for our “Communication Opportunities for Students using Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC)” PLC are available on sharepoint in the Student Services PLC folder.

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