One of my student’s is having a AAC device evaluation (alphabet soup translation AAC = Augmentative and Alternative Communication). An AAC evaluation is when someone comes to the school and evaluates a student’s skills and abilities and if a communication device would be an appropriate fit.
This student has low verbal skills (poor articulation, less than 50 commonly used words/phrases), has a lot of behavior issues, and is crazy smart (can read preprimer and primer Dolch words, count to 20, learns new skills after one or two prompts…). In my mind this child is a perfect fit for an AAC Device like a Dynavox. A lot of his behaviors stem from an inability to communicate his wants/needs. A lot of his academic skill development is at a stand still do to his lack of communication. I know with his Dynavox – his academic skills will skyrocket!
So – want to hear a sneaky trick? When my students have an upcoming AAC evaluation, we do a little bit of ‘studying.’ No shame in that – come on now… who hasn’t taken an ACT prep course? Right. I can’t expect my rigid, structured students to sit down in front of a brand new device and immediately know what to do. Often times, my students can’t fully demonstrate their abilities in a short evaluation. My students need some practice and repetition. So prior – to the evaluation, I borrow another student’s device a few times and have the student become comfortable with it. See if a device is actually a good fit fort he student.
With this student we practiced requesting colors. I was such a PROUD mama duck. I should him one time – hear that?! ONE TIME and this guy got it. He requested each color crayon for the coloring worksheet like it was second nature. To locate the color it took four steps. This completely solidified my ideas about the success of an AAC device for this student. Later we worked on requesting preferred items (iPad, chips, etc.) and requesting numbers for a number identification file folder. I wanted him to become comfortable with opening and closing pages, clearing past sentences, and pressing the buttons correctly (so the item populates in the speech box).