Host a Workshop Tailored to Your Needs

Successful AAC support for children and adults with complex communication needs is impossible without ongoing learning and collaboration.  Whether you are a therapist, caregiver, educator, or other support professional, the opportunity to learn practical strategies backed by sound research and clinical evidence could be just what you need to move your loved one, client, or student further with his or her communication.  

Parents, caregivers, & families,

  • Do you find yourself overwhelmed by you loved one's communication system?

  • Are you unsure of what AAC is or how it might help your family member?

  • Do you find your loved one is "stuck" at a communication level below his potential and that you are unsure what to do next?

  • Are you feeling successful some of the time with your family member's communication system but find yourself wanting more practical tips to optimize communication potential?

  • Are you struggling to find ways to provide opportunities for your loved one to successfully communicate throughout his or her day?

  • Do you find that it is hard to make communication through AAC fun or motivating for you or your AAC user?

Therapists, educators, & support professionals,

  • Do you find yourself unsure of how to help your student or patient progress beyond "basic" communication, such as "yes", "no" or making requests?

  • Do you work with a child or young adult who is nonverbal and find yourself unsure of how to introduce AAC or to decide if he or she is "ready"?

  • Are you looking for more strategies and tools to make AAC intervention less daunting?

  • Are you looking for new ways to evaluate the communication needs of those you serve and to compare the AAC options currently available?

  • Are you in need of a space to discuss challenges with colleagues and brainstorm solutions for difficult communicate cases?

Get the tools and strategies you need to navigate these challenges by hosting a live or online workshop!

Workshop Topics

Courses can be customized to fit the needs of target audiences with advanced notice and opportunity for collaboration with conference hosts. 

Teaching Language Through AAC (for Professionals & Caregivers)

Our goal in supporting the communication development of children is to guide each toward becoming spontaneous, independent communicators.  The foundation for building generative communication is rooted in the principles of typical language development, making these benchmarks the best available to guide our assessment and intervention when working with AAC users. This course explores assessment and intervention strategies for beginning communicators that foster receptive and expressive language growth through the use of a multimodal communication system.  No tech and high tech supports are explored in terms of identifying and using robust AAC systems that include core vocabulary to foster language growth and facilitate overall communication success for communicators along a wide continuum of verbal ability.  Resources are also provided for continued learning and collaboration.  

Learning Objectives Include:

·      Apply their knowledge of typical language development principles to AAC assessment and intervention for emerging/beginning communicators.

·      Select, arrange, and model visual vocabulary that progresses through early language stages on a wide array of tools and technologies.

·      Develop and implement AAC intervention plans that focus on creating naturalistic language learning opportunities and experiences, rich with a full range of language forms and functions.

·      Identify resources to assist in the assessment, intervention, and parent education process for AAC users

This course can be provided at varying levels of detail to support a session length of 2 or more hours.  This session can be adjusted for a wide range of audiences, including SLP’s, educators, paraeducators, ABA professionals, and caregivers. 

Using AAC Strategies to Support Language Development in Early Intervention Settings  (for Professionals)

The importance of early intervention services to support children with delays in communication development is well known. Although research has also established the need for appropriate AAC intervention during these critical years, many non-verbal or limited verbal children will continue to enter Kindergarten without a reliable system of communication that allows them to fully express their wants, needs, and ideas like their verbal peers. This course will explore practical strategies for assessing the supported communication needs of children in the earliest stages of communication development. A larger focus will be placed on presenting intervention strategies around the use of no tech, low, tech, and high tech AAC systems to support receptive and expressive language development and promote communication competency for today and the future! Attendees will also be provided with take-home materials and online resources for further learning and exploration.

Learning Objectives Include:

·      Apply knowledge of typical language development principles to AAC assessment and intervention for beginning communicators, ages birth through 5 years.

·      Integrate AAC considerations within communication assessment protocols.

·      Develop and implement AAC intervention plans that focus on creating naturalistic language learning opportunities and experiences, rich with a full range of visual language forms and functions.

·      Select arrange, and model visual vocabulary that progresses through early language stages using a variety of AAC platforms.

·      Integrate AAC principles and support into parent coaching strategies.

·      Locate online resources for further information on AAC in the EI setting, AAC assessment and intervention, and related topic areas.

 This course can be provided at varying levels of detail to support a session length of 2 or more hours.  A length of 4 or more hours is ideal to allow for sufficient time to cover concepts, review videos, and practice in real-time.  This session is appropriate for a range of EI providers, including SLPs, educators, paraeducators, and ABA professionals.

Behavior Communicates!  Shaping Non-Symbolic Communication Behaviors on the Road to Language          (for Caregivers & Professionals)

Emerging communicators of all ages often present with unconventional communication signals and “challenging behaviors” as they struggle to develop a way to express themselves.  Although behavior modification approaches may be successful to reduce or eliminate the surface behavior, the underlying communication need is often left unsuccessfully addressed, giving rise to re-emergence of old behaviors or emergence of new behaviors.    Non-symbolic communication signals can be identified and shaped into more conventional forms through the scaffolding process as individuals work toward establishing language, making it possible for non-symbolic communicators to become more effective and reducing frustration and challenging behaviors. This workshop explores assessment and intervention strategies to support communication partners in shaping the non-symbolic communication signals of the most impacted communicators, increasing overall communicative success and decreasing challenging behaviors.   Session topics will include the use of “aided language modeling” using symbol-based augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems and non-symbol based AAC systems. 

Learning Objectives: Include

·      Review AAC terms and concepts.

·      Review typical development in the areas of non-symbolic communication, social-emotional development, receptive language, expressive language, and speech production.

·      Explore sensory and motor challenges and their potential impacts on play, engagement, emotional/behavioral regulation, and communication.

·      Discover assessment strategies to build the bridge between unconventional communication signals and challenging behaviors and their intended communicative functions.

·      Obtain intervention strategies to shape non-symbolic communication signals and behavior to be more conventional and symbolic over time.

·      Obtain intervention strategies for shaping communicative intent and other precursors to symbolic communication.

·      Discover tips to become a more supportive and empowering communication partner and to assist in coaching caregivers and colleagues to do the same.

·      Identify resources for ongoing learning.

This course is ideally provided as a full day (6-8 hours) but can be adapted to varying levels of detail to support a session length of 2 or more hours.  This course is appropriate for ABA professionals, SLPs, educators, and students. 

Tips for SLPs & Educators Supporting Children with Visual Impairment (for Professionals)

Children with complex communication needs often present with a medical history that includes known brain injury.  Since 60%-80% of the brain consists of visual processing pathways that are essential for the processing of visual information, it is highly likely that many SLPs and special educators are working with children or young adults who have known or unknown visual impairment-namely, cortical visual impairment.   Others who may or may not have a history of brain injury may present with other forms of low vision or blindness that impact their ability to access the learning environment for the development of essential skills-including communication and literacy.  This workshop explores basic information regarding ocular and cortical visual impairment, as well as screening and intervention strategies to assist SLPs and similar professionals in intervention and advocacy for children and young adults with known or suspected visual impairment.  Resources for ongoing learning and collaboration are also provided.   

  Learning Objectives Include:

·      Obtain basic understanding of common ocular visual impairments and cortical visual impairment (CVI)

·      Learn about common signs and symptoms to screen for visual impairments.

·      Obtain basic understanding of how visual impairment may impact access to learning environments at home, in the classroom, and in the clinic.

·      Explore how visual impairment influences development in other areas, including play/cognition, communication, and social skills.

·      Obtain resources to assist in supporting families on a journey of appropriate visual assessment.

·      Explore basic strategies to support individuals with known visual impairment in accessing learning environments and materials.

 This course can be delivered in a 1-2 hour session and adjusted to a range of audiences, including SLPs, educators, paraeducators, and caregivers.  This is an introductory course and does not replace more formal training in working with individuals who are blind or visually impaired. 

 AAC Across the Lifespan (group presentation for Professionals)

This clinically focused workshop will walk participants through foundational considerations regarding the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies from early childhood through adulthood.  Participants will obtain a basic understanding of assessment considerations for each stage of communication and will learn how to apply assessment principles with their current knowledge of communication development to the process of determining AAC modalities for trial. 

Learning Objectives Include:

·      Demonstrate understanding of basic principles for assessment for AAC.

·      Identify and explore assessment resources.

·      Explore a wide range of AAC modalities and obtain information to assist in the selection of AAC tools for trial.

·      Identify strategies for successful AAC intervention for pediatric and adult populations.

·      Name community resources for ongoing support and learning.

This is a full day course (6-8 hours) to cover basic information and can also be split into a two-day course to separate pediatric from adult topics.  This course is appropriate for SLPs, including SLP students. 

 Communicating with TouchChat  (for Professionals & Caregivers)

TouchChat is a robust communication app available on Apple devices (iPhone, iPad) that supports the communication development and delivery needs of individuals who cannot fully communicate using speech.  This workshop (targeted to both professionals and caregivers) explores the features and options available with the TouchChat communication app, as well as basic programming and operation of the application (e.g., customizing vocabulary, backing up your device, using iShare).  Attendees will also learn how to select appropriate vocabulary sets for each unique communicator and how to integrate TouchChat as a valuable tool in the communication development and delivery process for a range of developmental levels.  Attendees should have access to a device with TouchChat installed and should bring their own device to the training.  If this is not possible, attendees are encouraged to reach out to the presenter in advance to make arrangements to use a loaner device during the training (while supplies last), or to explore alternate options to access the TouchChat platform during the training (e.g., Chat Editor).  

This course can be provided at varying levels of detail to support a session length of 2 or more hours.  This course is appropriate for all audiences interested in learning more about TouchChat.

 Shaping Language through AAC for the Child who is Learning to Engage  (for Professionals)

The development of communication begins at birth and progresses toward conventional, “symbolic” forms within the first year of life (e.g., conventional gestures, spoken, signed or pictured words).   The emergence of first words often indicates that a child is in the process of transitioning from non-symbolic to symbolic communication, a process that appears to happen rapidly and without much effort for typically developing children. However, the communication of some children-especially those with multiple, complex motor, sensory, learning, and communication needs-may remain entirely or mostly non-symbolic (and perhaps less conventional) in nature throughout early childhood and-at times- beyond. These modalities can be shaped into progressively more sophisticated and conventional non-symbolic forms through the scaffolding process that occurs between children and their communication partners within natural learning experiences.  New communication forms and functions arise through mindful interactions and relationships with skilled combination and play partners designed to meet the child where he is and expand “circles of communication” (Greenspan & Wieder, 2007).  As professionals charged with supporting the communication and social skills of young children at the earliest stages of development, or perhaps older children and individuals still categorized as emerging communicators, we may find shaping language through AAC strategies challenged by delays or differences in engagement, attention, and sensory regulation. This challenge may prevent us as primary interventionists to perceive a child as “ready” for symbolic communication through AAC strategies and may thus prevent us from providing essential visual language learning opportunities.  This session aims to support early interventionists and professionals serving children across developmental stages in simultaneously shaping engagement, non-symbolic communication and transitions to language through thoughtful assessment and intervention strategies. 

Learning Objectives Include:

  • Brief review of non-symbolic/pre-symbolic communication within the typical language development continuum (infancy forward)

  • Application of the normal progression of non-symbolic communicative acts to children with multiple, significant developmental challenges.

  • Resources for assessing the communicative means and functions of children who communicate predominantly or entirely through non-symbolic means.

  • Guidelines for establishing engagement and expanding on communication opportunities along with AAC strategies.

  • Guidelines and strategies for shaping communicative intent and other precursors to symbolic communication in children with multiple, significant developmental challenges.

  • Guidelines on improving skills as a supportive communication partner and transferring those skills to families and other supporters through successful coaching strategies.

  • Suggestions for intervention strategies to begin the transition from non-symbolic to symbolic means using symbol-based AAC.

  • Online resources for ongoing learning and collaboration.

This course is ideally presented as a full day course (6-8 hours), but may be provided at varying levels of detail to support a session length of 2 or more hours. This course is appropriate for ABA professionals, educators, SLPs, and students.  A variation of this course can be adapted for caregivers and paraeducators.  

Getting More from Your Child’s AAC Device  (for Caregivers)

This course explores basic AAC terms and principles and applies such to developing practical home-program strategies to help children learn to communicate more often and more robustly with their communication devices.  Participants will learn how to recognize current communication opportunities within naturally occurring routines and also how to create more communication opportunities to teach specific communication skills.  Participants will learn about the importance and practical application of modeling communication using their child’s AAC system and on adjusting the device to contain the language needed to build further communication skills.  The session includes lecture, videos, large and small group discussion, and hands-on practice.  This course can be provided in 3 hours and requires at least 5 participants. 

Contact us to find out more about workshop options and check out our events page for updates on AAC education events in your area!

Past Presentations

Washington Speech-Language Hearing Association, Spring and Fall Conferences

Nova Southeastern University

The University of Washington Autism Center

Federal Way School District

Issaquah School District

The Infant and Early Childhood Conference

Kindering Early Intervention Center

Northwest Early Intervention Center

Children’s Therapy Center

Birth to Three Development Center

Northwest ABA Development Center

Seattle Children’s Hospital