Creating collaboration from the start...


4/5/2019 7:25 PM

When implementing AAC tools with a client,  it takes the whole village.  As a result, there are a lot of different people who are involved in AAC implementation.  With a variety of people comes a variety of experiences or backgrounds:

- Different knowledge bases and approaches (OT, PT, SLP, classroom teacher, psychologist, social worker, parents, paraprofessional, vision specialist, hearing specialist, BCBA or ABA therapists, and administrators and others)

- Different expectations of what AAC actually IS- Differing expectations of what success with AAC looks like

- Different opinions of what AAC tools should be used

- Different expectations due to cultural or social backgrounds

It is important to address these issues for successful implementation, but often, before that, I find the channels of communication need to first be opened.  By it's very nature, the school setting and home setting are two different venues and as a result, the two do not often cross paths.  There is plenty of opportunity for miscommunication and animosity to build due to this lack of contact and communication.  Two key statements I hear that are good indications of breakdown are:

- (From the school perspective) "The parents are not doing what we ask them at home." or, "We have an AAC device, but the parents don't use it at home."

- (From the parent perspective) "The school is not doing anything." or "We are not even sure what is happening."

Often, my first question is, "Have you e-mailed or called the school?"  or  "Have you e-mailed or called the family?" The answer is usually, "well no." 

From there we can begin to open the lines of communication.  Part of my role when implementing AAC is to begin the communication usually with an e-mail or phone call.  I communicate to school staff and to families that my role is not to take sides, rather it is to open the lines of communication for more effective collaboration.  I operate from the perspective that everyone wants to work for what is in the child's best interest.  

There is a reason people go into education and there is a reason parents/caregivers become upset when they feel what is happening is not in the best interest of their child.  Everyone's desire is to do what is best for the child.  Unfortunately sometimes due to lack of communication, this can get lost.

Opening these lines of communication is an important first step to take to remove any animosity or stigma.  I remind those I consult with that success is usually not due to lack of desire, rather it is due to lack of knowledge regarding how to actually implement and make progress with someone using an AAC tool. 

Once we open communication, we can focus on what is needed for successful implementation including: knowledge required, goal setting, goal measurement, identifying trouble spots, and so on.

We have the beginning...

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