It can often be intimidating to get started and understand working with students with complex communication needs. Dr. David Rehfeld is a dual certified, SLP and BCBA and an assistant professor who joins me today to discuss the importance of support to students using AAC and their caregivers.
The individuals who spend the most time with a client need to have the most buy-in when it comes to effectively using AAC. Dr. Rehfeld encourages this support with Caregiver Coaching. Caregivers are any of the people your client spends more time with than you, parents, guardians, teachers, and one on one support staff. The goal of Caregiver Coaching is to minimize perceived effort to make the most impact. Providers working with caregivers often have ideas of “easy” ways to integrate the AAC device into routines but should consider unique needs and preferences that assimilate into their existing life.
Caregiver Coaching is provided using the Behavior Skills Training Model. BST is evidence based practice to provide instruction to facilitate success of skill mastery. Dr. Rehfeld explains it in four phases.
When you’re helping someone with AAC, you’re not just helping one student but you’re helping all of the future AAC users this person works with in the future. Keep in mind the importance of rapport, and positive reinforcement by providing praise when you see caregivers doing the right things!
Dr. Rehfeld is active in working with students aspiring to work in the speech pathology field. You can find him at the many conferences he attends or speaks at. Dr. Rehfeld encourages others in the field to attend conferences, seek out resources, and keep adding as many tools to their belt to help their clients as they can.
David M. Rehfeld, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Donna Nigh Department of Advanced Professional and Special Services. He is most passionate about school-based, speech-language pathology services for children with communication disorders, especially those with complex communication needs. When he is not actively walking alongside students aspiring to work in the field of speech-language pathology, he is likely playing with his Labrador, reading a good book or out on a run, jog, walk, or some combo of the above.
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