Practically Speaking: Language, Literacy, and Academic Development for Students with AAC Needs

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9781557669513: Practically Speaking: Language, Literacy, and Academic Development for Students with AAC Needs
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When K-12 students use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), what can SLPs and educators do to ensure the best academic and social outcomes? They'll find out in this accessible guidebook—every professional's key to helping students develop the language and literacy skills that lead to higher academic achievement and positive peer relationships.

A must-have guide for educators and SLPs who provide communication support, this book answers pressing questions about working with students who use AAC and helps teachers skillfully meet student needs while satisfying the demands of their curriculum. Pre-service and in-service educators and the SLPs who work with them will learn to

  • collaborate effectively to improve outcomes for students who use AAC
  • determine student needs through effective, ongoing reading, writing, and language assessments
  • develop IEPs based on each child's language, communication, and literacy goals
  • help students move beyond emergent literacy and develop the skills research identifies as the keys to reading success
  • meet IDEA requirements by adapting the general curriculum so all students participate and achieve
  • support students' successful use of various AAC technologies, such as communication boards, word prediction software, and speech generating devices
  • supplement classroom instruction with visual and oral scaffolding supports for students with AAC needs
  • promote positive social relationships and friendships between students who use AAC and their peers

To provide students who use AAC with the best support, readers will get clear descriptions of instructional techniques, guidelines for curriculum adaptations, and practical tools and visual aids such as model intervention plans, task analysis forms, and charts of sample accommodations.

Balancing practical strategies with up-to-date research, this book unlocks language and literacy skills for children who use AAC and lays the groundwork for long-term school and social success.

Practically Speaking is part of the Augmentative and Alternative Communication Series.

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About the Author:


Gloria Soto, Ph.D., is a full professor in the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders at San Francisco State University. She has extensive experience serving students with AAC needs in school settings. Her research areas focus on interventions to support the academic, language, and social development of students with AAC needs in general education classrooms and other school settings.



Carole Zangari, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a professor of speech, language, and communication disorders in the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University, where she directs the Tyler Institute. Dr. Zangari teaches a variety of AAC classes to master’s and doctoral students and to practicing professionals in the postmaster’s AAC specialization. In addition to AAC, Dr. Zangari has interests in the area of online teaching and support to families and teams serving children with significant communication difficulties.



David R. Beukelman, Ph.D is the Barkley Professor of Communication Disorders at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Director of Research and Education of the Communication Disorders Division, Munroe/Meyer Institute of Genetics and Rehabilitation at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, A research partner in the Rehabilitation Engineering and Research Center in Augmentative and Alternative Communication, and a senior researcher in the Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering at the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital. With Pat Mirenda, he co-authored the textbook, Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Management of Severe Communication Disorders in Children and Adults. He served as editor of the Augmentative and Alternative Communication Journal for four years.

Joe Reichle, Ph.D., Professor, Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, 115 Shevlin Hall, 164 Pillsbury Drive Southeast, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455

Dr. Joe Reichle holds appointments in the Departments of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences and Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota. He is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of augmentative communication and communication intervention for persons with significant developmental disabilities and has written over 100 articles and chapters. Dr. Reichle has co-edited 10 books focused on his areas of expertise. He has served as a co-editor of the flagship journal (Journal of Speech-Language-Hearing Research) of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association. Dr. Reichle was a former Associate Chair of the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences. During his 33-year career he has served as a PI, co-PI, and investigator on numerous federally funded projects. Currently, he is the Director of the University of Minnesota's Leadership Training Program in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities.



Lynn Ahlgrim-Delzell, Ph.D., Dr. Ahlgrim-Delzell's research interests include literacy instruction and assessment and research methods for low-incidence populations. She has over 30 years of experience working with individuals with severe disability in various capacities.



Cathy Binger, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and creative writer. She earned her undergraduate degree from The Pennsylvania State University and earned her master's degree from the University of Wyoming. Since graduating, she has worked in hospital, university, and preschool settings, providing services to individuals with communication disabilities, including those who require AAC. In 1994, she returned to The Pennsylvania State University and accepted a job as a research assistant, working with Janice C. Light on a grant to investigate exemplary practices to develop the communicative competence of individuals who use AAC. Cathy Binger currently lives in Laramie, Wyoming, and is writing her first novel.



June E. Downing, Ph.D., was a national leader in the field of special education who focused her expertise, time, and energy researching best practices and advocating for individuals with severe and multiple disabilities. She was a steadfast promoter of inclusive education, viewing access to the general education program and peers without disabilities as best practice, as well as an issue of social equality and civil rights. Dr. Downing was an exceptionally productive scholar who published numerous articles, chapters, monographs, and textbooks focusing on the education and inclusion of students with severe and multiple disabilities. Her publications are used by many educators and parents to learn how to provide quality education in inclusive classrooms to students with severe and multiple disabilities. Dr. Downing provided numerous professional development trainings in many regions of the world and served as the keynote speaker at several national and international conferences. She was known for her practical, invigorating, and humorous presentations and workshops. Dr. Downing's career in the field of special education began as a teacher of students with visual impairments and multiple disabilities including deafblindness. She was Associate Professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson and Professor at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). She directed or codirected several federally funded personnel preparation, research-to-practice, and technical assistance projects and was committed to preparing exceptional, highly qualified teachers, whose role she saw as change agents for the future. Through Dr. Downing's teaching and hands-on guidance, her students developed a passion for teaching and a strong commitment to supporting quality lives for students with disabilities and their families. While at CSUN, Dr. Downing contributed to the development of the CHIME Institute's Charter School and was instrumental in its high-quality inclusive educational practices. Dr. Downing served on the National TASH Board of Directors for six years and was Past President of Cal-TASH and AZ-TASH (the California and Arizona state chapters of TASH). She also served as an associate editor of Research and Practices for Persons with Severe Disabilities. Dr. Downing retired from CSUN in 2007 and returned to Tucson, where she lived until her death in July 2011. Her indomitable spirit, passion, and determination have been a driving force in our field, and her work continues to inspire and create positive and successful learning outcomes for students.



Karen A. Erickson, Ph.D., David E. and Dolores J. Yoder Distinguished Professor, Director, Center for Literacy and Disability Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 321 S. Columbia Street, Suite 1100 Bondurant Hall, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599

Karen A. Erickson is Yoder Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A former teacher of children with significant disabilities, Dr. Erickson's current research addresses literacy and communication assessment and intervention for students with a range of disabilities, including significant disabilities. Dr. Erickson is codeveloper of the Tar Heel Reader online library of accessible books for beginning readers as well as several other assistive, learning, and communication technologies.



Beth E. Foley, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Professor and Head of the Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education, Utah State University

For more than 2 decades, Dr. Foley’s career has focused on using assistive technology to improve educational, social, and vocational outcomes for individuals with complex communication needs. Dr. Foley's primary research interests are language and literacy development in children with complex communication needs, and inclusion of students who use AAC in general education settings. Her numerous publications, conference presentations, and workshops on these topics communicate the critical need for integrating best practices in AT/AAC, language, and literacy intervention into educational programming for students with significant disabilities.



David A. Koppenhaver, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Reading Education and Special Education, Appalachian State University, ASU Box 32085, 151 College Street, Boone, North Carolina 28608

David A. Koppenhaver is Professor in the Reading Education and Special Education Department at Appalachian State University. His Dr. Koppenhaver's research focuses on literacy in individuals with signifi cant disabilities, including those with complex communication needs. He and David Yoder cofounded the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1990.



Janice Light, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders at the Pennsylvania State University. She is actively involved in research, personnel preparation, and service delivery in the area of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Her primary interest has been furthering understanding of the development of communicative competence and self-determination by individuals who require AAC.

Dr. Light is the principal investigator on several federally-funded research grants to improve outcomes for individuals who have significant communication disabilities through the use of augmentative and alternative communication. She is one of the project directors in the Augmentative and Alternative Communication Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (AAC-RERC), a virtual research consortium funded by the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research.

In 1996, Dr. Light was recognized as the Don Johnston Distinguished Lecturer by the International Society of Augmentative and Alternative Communication for her leadership in the AAC field. In 1999, she received the Dorothy Jones Barnes Outstanding Teaching Award at the Pennsylvania State University.

David B. McNaughton, Ph.D., is a professor of education at The Pennsylvania State University. He teaches coursework in augmentative communication and assistive technology and collaboration skills for working with parents and educational team members. Dr. McNaughton's research interests include literacy instruction for individuals who use AAC and supports to employment for individuals with severe disabilities. He is a partner in the Rehabilitation Engineering and Research Center in Communication Enhancement (AAC-RERC), funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).



Krista M. Wilkinson, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, The Pennsylvania State University, 308 Ford Building, University Park, Pennsylvania, 16802

Dr. Krista Wilkinson is Professor at the Pennsylvania State University and Editor of the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology (2014-2016). Dr. Wilkinson's research applies the tools of neuroscience to understand visual and cognitive processing of individuals with severe disabilities, in order to optimize visual augmentative and alternative communication interventions used to support their communication functioning.


Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Excerpted from Practically Speaking: Language, Literacy, and Academic Development for Students with AAC Needs
Edited by Gloria Soto, Ph.D., & Carole Zangari, Ph.D.
Chapter 6: Academic Adaptations for Students with AAC Needs
By Gloria Soto
©2009. Brookes Publishing. All rights reserved.

Special education legislation has gradually specified that the general education curriculum should be the primary content of the education of students with disabilities and the instructional activities used to implement it are the primary context for these students to receive instruction. The need to develop appropriate adaptations has intensified as students who rely on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) are provided access to general curriculum activities. Educators and related services professionals must be able to identify and develop the most appropriate instructional adaptations to support the participation of these students in the general curriculum goals and activities. It can be a daunting task. This chapter discusses current issues and effective practices central to the development of adaptations for students with AAC needs. The chapter begins with a discussion on the access to the general curriculum mandate and then moves to development of adaptations to support the participation of these students in the general curriculum.

ACCESS TO THE GENERAL CURRICULUM: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments (IDEA) of 1997 (PL 105-17) introduced important changes in the provision of special education services for students with disabilities. One of the most significant changes concerns the requirement that students with disabilities receive access to the general curriculum. Specifically, the amendments require that students with disabilities be involved in and make progress in the general curriculum to the maximum extent appropriate (Wehmeyer, Lattin, Lapp-Rincker, & Agran, 2003). The requirement to maximize students’ involvement in the general curriculum means that students receiving special education services have the right to participate in the same instructional activities, with the same materials, and in the same progressmonitoring activities used with typically developing students. These mandates were explicitly articulated partly because special education had often been misunderstood as a parallel curriculum and students with disabilities had, for the most part, been omitted from the general education curriculum (Turnbull, Turnbull, Wehmeyer, & Park, 2003).

Spooner and Browder (2006) noted that access to the general curriculum is not synonymous with inclusion. According to IDEA 1997, special education is specially designed instruction to support the child’s participation in the general curriculum, regardless of the setting where the student is being educated. Although general education settings may be easier and more likely to provide access to the general curriculum, inclusion is neither a prerequisite nor synonymous with general curriculum access (Wehmeyer et al., 2003). The focus of the access to the general curriculum mandate is not on where students are to be educated but on what is the content of the students’ educational program. Students in all types of education settings must have access to their state’s general curriculum (Spooner & Browder, 2006).

IDEA 1997 and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 (PL 107-110) further stipulated that states include students with disabilities in large-scale state assessments and specified that those assessments be linked to academic content standards, with accommodations when needed (see Chapter 1 for an extensive discussion of educational assessment). By requiring that all students be included in large-scale assessments and specifying that those assessments be linked to academic content standards, current policy implies the need to align instruction with academic content standards and teach language arts, mathematics, and science to all children regardless of the extent of their disabilities and the setting where they are being educated (Browder, Spooner, Wakeman, Trela, & Baker, 2006).

States are allowed to design alternate performance assessments for students with the most significant disabilities who are significantly below grade level and cannot participate in the statewide assessment system. These assessments are linked directly to the state’s general content standards and reflect the portions of the content standards from kindergarten through high school that are accessible to students with the most significant cognitive disabilities (Browder et al., 2004). In addition to being aligned with academic domains, alternate achievement standards must also address the functional needs of these students (Browder et al., 2004; Browder, Wakeman, & Flowers, 2006). Yet, the expectation for all students is to have access to the academic content for their assigned grade level. For example, an 11-year-old student with disabilities who is in fifth grade will be exposed to the history and literature typically taught for this grade level but with simplified content and outcomes that differ from grade-level attainment. For instance, the student might use picture symbols to indicate the main character, the setting, and the sequence of events of a story that is read to him.

WHAT IS THE GENERAL CURRICULUM?

The general curriculum is often referred to as the state’s academic content standards or the content to be learned by typically developing students at each specific grade level (Browder, Spooner, et al., 2006; Spooner & Browder, 2006; Wehmeyer, Lattin, & Agran, 2001). Content standards identify the knowledge, skills, and understanding that students should demonstrate in academic areas (Turnbull et al., 2003). Because there is no national curriculum, each state determines priorities for student learning and has its own standards (Browder, Spooner, et al., 2006). Thus, it is critical that clinicians and special educators become familiar with their own state standards and grade-level curriculum. These can typically be found on each state’s educational agency web site.

The general curriculum is organized across academic domains, typically language arts, mathematics, science, social science, and so forth. Some states also include a life skills curriculum. Within each academic domain, the general curriculum includes the scope and sequence of skills students are to meet within and across grade levels. The general curriculum also includes the instructional materials used by teachers to work on the content standards, such as textbooks and worksheets adopted by the school system, as well as the activities used to monitor student progress, such as large-scale assessments to determine whether students are making progress in achieving state standards.

Although current policy involves the need for assessment of academic standards linked to gradelevel content, it does not prevent the inclusion of instruction in functional skills that students with disabilities need (Browder, Wakeman, et al., 2006). Although most people in the special education community welcome the mandate for access to the general curriculum and the increase in expectations for students with disabilities, many warn that an emphasis on academic content alone runs counter to the ultimate intent of IDEA 1997, which is to prepare individuals with disabilities to live productive and independent adult lives to the maximum extent possible (Ford, Davern, & Schnorr, 2001; Hunt, Quirk, Ryndak, Halvorsen, & Schwartz, 2007; Turnbull et al., 2003). Academic outcomes are important, and measuring them is necessary, but not sufficient, to achieve the global outcome of quality of life for students with disabilities and their families. The unique needs of each individual requires educators to also address quality-of-life domains such as social-emotional adjustment, independence and responsibility, physical health, and communication (Hunt et al., 2007). For instance, for students with AAC needs, the curriculum needs to include both the general education curriculum as set forth by each state as well as additional curricular domains addressing their specific needs. In addition to the academic curriculum, students with AAC needs will require a specialized and intensive curriculum in other areas such as operational, strategic, linguistic, and social competence; functional life skills; and vocational and community-based instruction.

HOW CAN STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES PARTICIPATE IN THE GENERAL CURRICULUM?

Involving students with disabilities in the general curriculum requires changes at multiple levels in the way special education instruction has been traditionally delivered. In fact, Wehmeyer and Agran (2006) have suggested changes at the district, school, and classroom level in a comprehensive reform. Districtwide, comprehensive reform efforts are necessary to ensure that content areas important to students with disabilities (e.g., functional or life skills) are well integrated into mandated areas such as reading, science, and mathematics. At the school level, administrators and faculty need to articulate a shared vision and a process to ensure that children with diverse abilities are successful and participate in the general curriculum to the maximum extent possible. This may include schoolwide implementation of positive behavior supports, disability awareness, flexible groupings, communitybuilding activities, curriculum mapping, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL; Browder, Spooner, et al., 2006; Browder et al., 2007).

Universally designed classrooms respond to and accommodate the needs of all learners by addressing the barriers that can prevent student learning. Typically, educators and clinicians use a UDL plan for adaptations at three levels: representation, expression, and engagement. Representation often refers to how information is presented to students (i.e., input). Teachers incorporate UDL principles when they present content to students in multiple formats such as oral statements, text, digital text, graphic symbols, visual organizers, online resources, video-based materials, highlighters, and peer or adult supports. Expression refers to the need for alternate methods for responding (i.e., output) to the instructional content, which typically requires speaking, writing, manipulating, or drawing. Teachers incorporate UDL principles when they allow students to respond to content using multiple modalities such as speech-generating devices, adapted keyboards, customized software, role play, simulations, presentations, and peer-assisted assignments. Third, engagement includes a variety of strategies to support students’ participation in the learning process (Browder, Wakeman, et al., 2006; Wehmeyer & Agran, 2006). Teachers who implement UDL principles provide students with an array of options to remain engaged and motivated, such as giving students choices regarding learning activities and materials, using multiple work locations, varying the length of activities, varying feedback strategies, and using adapted vocabulary (Salend, 2008). The Center for Applied Special Technology web site includes resources and tools to support clinicians and educators in the implementation of UDL principles (see http://www.cast.org).

Differentiated instruction (DI) is another reform that can be incorporated at the classroom level. DI is premised on the idea that all learners do not learn in the same way and refers to the practice of ensuring that each learner receives the methods and materials most suitable to his or her needs and abilities. Teachers who use DI incorporate the principles of UDL by using strategies that address students’ strengths, interests, skills, and abilities in flexible learning environments (Hoover & Patton, 2004). During the course of a unit, a teacher who implements DI uses a wide range of instructional materials in a variety of formats and complexities to enable all students in his or her classroom to reach the objectives of the instructional unit (Broderick, Mehta-Parekh, & Reid, 2006). Teachers who use DI acknowledge and prepare for the range of aptitudes, needs, and interests that they find in their classrooms. The assumption underlying DI is that when a student (with or without disabilities) appears unengaged or unmotivated, it is likely that the student is unable to understand the nature of the task or finds the modality of the activity unattainable.

DI requires an analysis of the expectations of the instructional unit and the development of modifications. For instance, most classroom activities require communication skills such as participating in classroom conversations, following teacher directions, answering questions, and requesting clarifications, as well as understanding the teacher’s explanations and descriptions. These expectations may be incompatible with the abilities and needs of students who use AAC. Adaptations will be necessary to ensure student participation. The following sections of the chapter describe specific tools, processes, and strategies for designing adaptations at the classroom and the instructional activity level to ensure participation and achievement in the general curriculum for students with AAC needs.

Due to the complex needs of students who rely on AAC, a comprehensive implementation of adaptations to ensure access to the general curriculum requires the collaboration of general educators, special educators, related services personnel, and family members. Indeed, many of this book’s chapters identify a number of critical methods and strategies to support students’ participation in curricular activities, such as communication strategies (Chapters 7 and 8), peer supports (Chapter 11), assistive technology (AT) integration (Chapter 12), and collaborative teaming (Chapter 13).

ADAPTATIONS TO PROMOTE THE PARTICIPATION OF STUDENTS WHO RELY ON AAC

The changes mandating the use of the general curriculum as the content and context for instruction and intervention for students with disabilities present the educational team with enormous opportunities and significant challenges. First, educators, clinicians, and families have a greater opportunity to reverse the trend of lowering standards for students with disabilities, which often reflects negative stereotypes of disability and biases against their participation in general education (Ford et al., 2001; Hoover & Patton, 2004; Turnbull et al., 2003). Instead of lowering standards or deriving parallel standards, educational teams are now challenged to do what is necessary to help students achieve proficiency within the state-mandated standards. Thus, educators must adapt specific instruction to ensure that all students are provided with opportunities to acquire content and skills associated with each standard. This requires a solid understanding of the curriculum and its components as well as methods and strategies to individualize instruction without resorting to a parallel curriculum, separate location, or special pull-aside activities (Ford et al., 2001; Hoover & Patton, 2004). There is an emerging body of literature in the special education field addressing e...

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Gloria Soto
ISBN 10: 1557669511 ISBN 13: 9781557669513
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Book Description 2009. Paperback. Condition: New. Paperback. As a volume in the AAC series, this book aims to address the role of AAC in school settings and offer professionals models and strategies for improving outcomes for children who use AAC in.Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. 400 pages. 0.621. Seller Inventory # 9781557669513

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