I’ve learned a lot about AAC technologies over the last 15 years. I often say that I don’t know everything, but I can probably tell you how and where to learn more. Because I provide direct technology support and training to educational teams for many students with impaired language and communication skills, I have gathered a wealth of forms, tip sheets, tutorial resources, assessment materials, etc. for use in the school setting. I share these with teachers and treating speech therapy clinicians across my service area, as well as anybody looking to learn more. I hope these resources are helpful to those working (or planning to work) in the school setting with children who need or use AAC supports. There are SO many more than these, but this is where I’d like to start.
I am an ATP working in the special education setting, but I’ve also been an OT for almost 30 years. Since the goal of OT is to improve functional independence and the goal of AT use is to provide tools that help accommodate for disability, the two are a perfect match. Although my role is to foster academic engagement and success in the classroom, we all recognize the importance of the child’s family as members of the education team. Carryover in the home is a key piece to supporting that success!
In this post, I’d like to share some of the resources that I routinely offer to parents to introduce them to the use of visual supports, AAC tools and strategies, and sensory strategies commonly used within the classroom.
Mo Buti and our session attendees have been sharing some amazing suggestions for teaching communication skills to non-verbal students who also have visual impairments. Here are a few of those ideas and resources!
TACTILE CONNECTIONS KIT: SYMBOLS FOR COMMUNICATION This kit helps teachers create a tactile card system that is individualized for visually impaired and blind learners who have additional disabilities and/or lack a formal means of communication or literacy. The tactile symbols are created when part of an object is mounted on a hand-sized card representing core vocabulary categories (e.g. people, places, actions, objects, etc.). This kit provides some of the essential components that assist in a system’s construction and application.
The PERKINS site offers some great resources for teaching communication to visually impaired students.
Tactile books are used to teach literacy, so why not pair them with separate cards containing the same key words, characters, etc. found in the books to reinforce language learning? Pinterest (everybody’s favorite collecting site) offers a wealth of ideas for CREATING TACTILE BOOKS that can be paired with tactile communication supports. Here is another link to MORE TACTILE BOOKS FOR LANGUAGE AND LITERACY.
Our educational cooperative hosts workshops across the state for teachers and clinicians working with the special needs population in our schools and I have to say that this has been one of my personal favorites. Our speaker, Ms. Mo Buti, has been a special education teacher, administrator, and Coordinator for Autism services for Chicago Public Schools for more than 24 years. This incredible session offers a wealth of ideas for modifying the classroom and curriculum to meet the special learning needs of students with Autism. It was a hit in the east Tennessee region last fall, so we brought her back for staff in the central and western regions. For those attending these sessions, there was a previous posting of Mo’s PowerPoint presentation, but it was only available online for a short period of time (to avoid excessive downloads, plagiarism,etc.) If you attended and would like a copy of the presentation, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and the day that you attended.
A speech therapist friend recently introduced me to this amazing new resource and I have been smitten! I love my traditional picture-library programs as much as the next therapist, but it is frustrating when I can’t create needed supports because the software CDs are back in the office. This site eliminates the need to carry software and install on multiple systems and makes it easy to create instantly from any location! This is especially helpful when I visit a classroom and want to provide ideas and examples of curriculum or communication supports for specific activities right then!
LessonPix is an easy-to-use online resource that allows users to create customized learning materials using a database of more than 25,000 visual symbols on their site. They provide access anytime, anywhere and offer outstanding articles with ideas for integrating visual supports. Creations are stored online in your account for future use and a Sharing Center allows users to share their creations or find new inspiration from materials made by others, arranged by topic and subject! The site requires a subscription of $36/year and is worth every penny!
Most teachers and clinicians will tell you that, while they understand the ‘what and why’ for teaching students with Autism, they have very little time (if any!) and are often at a loss for the ‘how’ ideas. Let me introduce you to an amazing resource … The Autism Helper!
This site is operated by Sasha Halligan, a dynamic, skilled teacher with extensive experience in curriculum modification for students on the Autism Spectrum. She routinely offers freebie materials and Sasha’s TeachersPayTeachers site is full of other resources on myriad topics, all aligned to core standards. Just reading her daily posts and seeing her creative ideas for teaching and supporting picture-based communication is fun. I love TAH and so will you!
Check out these great apps for Communication that were featured at our iPad Summit on May 10, 2013!! To see more great resources from our training and to learn more about using the iPad in Education, visit our LiveBinder!