Coaching Call w/ Nikki Stempien (Part 2): AAC Coaching Strategies


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By Rachel Madel and Chris Bugaj, Rachel Madel, and Chris Bugaj. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

This week’s interview is part 2 of the coaching call with Nikki Stempien! Nikki is an SLP in the schools who was looking for guidance on AAC implementation for a student with autism and complex communication needs, including how to increase buy-in for high-tech AAC and strategies for coaching communication partners!

Before the interview, Chris and Rachel talk about the concept of “education before restriction” where people suggest locking students out of areas of their AAC device rather than teaching AAC users not to do the undesired behavior. There are a lot of teaching opportunities that are squandered if we jump to the “quick fix” of locking the student in or out rather than teaching why they shouldn’t do it. We can lead with strategies like social stories, explaining how it makes others feel, reinforce positive behaviors, and more before moving to restricting.

Key ideas this week:

🔑 Record your work with the student (programming, modeling, etc) and share brief clips to train parents and staff. Then you can save the clips and use them to train SLPs, staff, and more when there is change to personnel. You can ask partners to share videos with you as well so you can all collaborate together.

🔑 If there is a plateau in progress with the device, look at the implementation and at the communication partners - don’t just try and replace the AAC app with a different one. Follow the motivation - are they motivated to use the device?

🔑 Involve the paraprofessionals as much as possible in implementation, meetings, and more. For example, even if aides can’t attend the IEP meeting, you can solicit input to share with parents.

🔑 If you are interested in connecting with other AAC specialists, you can reach out to device reps to help you find people in your area who also work with AAC. You can also reach out on social media (like the TWT Facebook group) to set up a regular meet up on Zoom to do a book/podcast study, etc.

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