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Episode #032: AAC and Evidenced-Based Practice with Kate Grandbois

AAC is a special space that crosses over through many shared professional settings. Kate Granbois joins us on the episode today to talk about her job as an AAC specialist, the ins and outs of  Augmentative Alternative Communication, and getting comfortable with the process. Kate warns about her title of “AAC Specialist”, while it’s a real job and title, and she holds a lot of knowledge on this topic, it’s important for many other professionals in the AAC user’s life to be empowered in this skill set as well.

The most important part of AAC is the user. The Communication Bill of Rights is a great resource and really highlights the fact that communication is a human right. So when collaborating, it’s important to recognize that no one owns just one environment. The AAC user needs to be supported across all environments to remove barriers. Taking the AAC user’s family and friends values into consideration is a critical and ethical piece that is crucial to the success of the user across their life. AAC is not just important for accessing curriculum in the school. There are social aspects and basic need aspects, and the environment needs to revolve around the whole user, not just the professional’s therapy room.

AAC is more than just communication, it is also knowledge on equipment, vendors, the law, and documentation. Kate gives us some broad steps for getting started with AAC assessment.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the Communication Bill of Rights and assessment frameworks.
  2. What does it take to “sit in the seat”, to do the assessment?
  3. Know the products and features and understand the feature matching process.
  4. Know and understand the documentation and the legal requirements.

There is never a perfect set up when it comes to therapy and AAC, but it’s important to not let an AAC device disrupt therapy implementation. Kate says it’s a science and an art, and it’s okay for everyone’s therapy to look different. She also shares some resources for how to get more comfortable with your therapy with an AAC user and their device. At the end of the episode, Kate reminds professionals to be compassionate because everyone is coming from a different place. Our job is to help communication skills, and communication is a lot more than learning how to ask for things.

I hope that you were able to gain some new information or will utilize the resources discussed today to empower communication with your clients and better improve your therapy! 

What’s Inside:

  • Shared communication and collaboration.
  • What is the “Communication Bill of Rights”.
  • AAC assessment through intervention.
  • Resources for getting comfortable with AAC.

Today’s Guest:

Kate is a dual certified SLP / BCBA with 13 years of clinical experience working in private practice, outpatient clinics, outpatient hospital settings, and consulting to private schools and legal teams. She specializes in augmentative alternative communication, autism and associated disorders, language development, and integrating AAC into the educational/vocational programming of persons with behavioral needs.  Her private practice, Grandbois Therapy + Consulting, LLC, focuses on multidisciplinary treatment, collaboration, and mentorship.  She has served as an advisory board member for the HP Hacking Autism Initiative, as adjunct faculty at Northeastern University, and is the former president and cofounder of The Speech and Language Network, Inc.

Mentioned In This Episode

— @ABASpeechByRose
— SLP Nerdcast on Instagram
— SLP Nerdcast on Facebook
— Communication Bill of Rights
— NEW FREE ON DEMAND TRAINING: 5 strategies to help your students with autism engage and communicate

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