Mary Van Donsel & Anne Kuhlmeier: Creating a Successful AAC Camp


Manage episode 289997011 series 2705062
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, we hear from Chris's interview with Mary Van Donsel & Anne Kuhlmeier, Speech-Language Pathologists and educators who have put on a successful AAC camp for many years. Mary and Anne talk about how they got started with AAC camps, how they train families and campers, the specialists they get involved, and how they train the counselors to support the campers during the week. Mary and Anne also discuss what keeps everyone focused and moving along, how they avoid camper burn out, and how they have pivoted to a virtual model during the pandemic.

Before the interview, Chris shares how teaching his son to drive reminded him of AAC implementation - you have to learn a motor plan, you have to establish good habits early, and you need coaching from another driver. Rachel discusses how she has moved to providing families with a “package” of services with an emphasis on implementation and ongoing coaching. Her client’s families often need periodic coaching sessions to use the system in a way that is more motivating and will better translate to autonomous communication.

Key ideas this week:

🔑 Educating families during the camp is extremely important - you don’t want it to just be a fun week for campers, you want improvements in AAC use to continue after the camp is over.

🔑 To get started planning a new camp, you need to think about where you are going to hold the camp - a school, university, or a private space. You need someone on the team who is involved with the location (e.g. a university faculty member).

🔑 If you want to start a camp, find benefactors and partners who will help support your dream. You can enlist people from state AT projects, contact AT lending libraries to provide devices, have non-profit organizations to provide funding, etc.

🔑 When planning an AAC camp, consider possible medical issues, feeding difficulties, and similar needs of the campers. You can get someone who is trained to help manage toileting, feeding, medication, etc, such as a nurse practitioner.

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