ISAAC 2018 – top take homes and resources from the conference
Our therapist, Bec Shelton, was lucky enough to attend the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) Conference on the Gold Coast in July this year. The ISAAC conference was a 4 day conference sharing the latest research and trends in AAC technology, intervention and awareness for AAC users, parents, teachers, support workers and therapists.
But what is AAC? AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, and is a term that basically means any communication that isn’t spoken (e.g. sign language, speech generating devices, picture based systems). Have a look at our AAC blog for a bit more on this topic.
Speech Pathology Australia suggest that their are about 1.2 million people in Australia living with a communication disability, and about 85,000 of these people use some sort of technology to get their message across.
With that in mind, here are the tid-bits that I found most useful from the 4 days:
Project Core is an ongoing project out of the US, which aims to teach communication through ‘Core Words’ (the 200 or so words that make up 80% of what we say everyday). They have a significant amount of materials available for free on their website, including research and online modules to learn more about using Core Words to teach communication and literacy.
Their professional development modules on Core Vocabulary are short, online videos which cover 12 different topics from an overview of Project Core, to teaching independent writing to AAC users. They also have lots of free universal core boards in different sizes and symbol types.
An Australian team are currently developing the ‘Roadmap of Communicative Competence’ (ROCC) – a resource for schools and teachers to develop individual student learning goals and monitor progress of AAC users in their classrooms and schools. While the ROCC isn’t complete yet (due for completion in November), you can sign up for notifications and to learn more at their website.
Abi Thirumanickam, presented some very interesting insights into Video Modelling. Video Modelling is based on social learning theory, that is, learning by observing actions and consequences in social contexts. She reported that Video Modelling eliminates the potential disadvantages of live modelling, such as incorrect instructions and errors, as videos can be edited for errorless learning. 3 different types of video modelling were explored:
- Video Modelling – where the action is completed by someone other than the person who is going to use the video (may also be a cartoon)
- Video Self Modelling – the person completing the action is the person who is going to use the video
- Point of View Modelling – video is taken from a point of view model
Supporting Authentic Voice
“Early success in social conversations provides students with the power of communication…and the skill of communicating” De-Baun 2018
In Pati King-DeBaun’s session on supporting authentic voice in AAC users, she discussed the purpose of communication across our lifetime, and that “social interactions remain to be the most consistent purpose of communication”. She reported on the importance of modelling and that communication partners should model an AAC across the day and across environments, and not just in structured activities.
She explained that “students make stronger connections when they are given real purposes for their communicative efforts” and that conversation should be encouraged by developing interests and hobbies and showing interest in what a student is involved in.
7 AAC strategies for students with ASD
Betsy Caperole presented her 7 strategies for working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and who use AAC. She noted the following strategies as being effective in her clinical experience:
- choice making
- visual schedules
- personal communication books
- topic/theme boards
- social narratives
- video modelling
- computer based technology
Using a Child’s Interests
Bethany Diener from Tobii Dynavox, presented an interesting seminar on using a client’s interests in therapy. About 60% of what we say in a conversation relates to ourselves or things that we’re interested in. By using items of interest, we can increase a child’s motivation in using their AAC. This increased motivation can lead to an overall increase in their functional communication.
Bethany also presented a range of ‘interest checklists’ to use with children, including:
- The AAC Needs Assessment
- Child Interests Activity Checklist
- Reinforcement Inventories for Children and Adults
Have a read of our Playing Games with AAC for some more ideas on using games and a child’s interests when starting out with AAC.
Want to learn more?
Head to the ISAAC website where you can download the presentations from the conference. While you’re there, why not have a look at the finalists from this years ISAAC short film festival.