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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

AAC for Preschoolers

Published December 20, 2011 9:27 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

Today I would like to continue my post discussion from last week. So far, only one SLP has responded to my inquiry about using an iPad with children ages 3-5 years old. Now, I do realize that we are less than a week away from both Christmas and Hanukkah, so maybe therapists are much busier than usual! However, I am also wondering if there are not as many therapists using iPads and other devices with preschool aged children as I had thought?

If the latter is true, is this due to a lack of resources? A lack of funding? A lack of knowledge? In my own situation, funding has become an issue over recent years; therefore, our personal AAC supply is limited. Instead of housing a variety of devices that may or may not be appropriate for the children in our current classrooms, we instead have a "lending library" so to speak available through our county and the process is as follows:

I, as the SLP, fill out a three-page form about the child, their strengths and weaknesses, and a fairly thorough description of what their educational plan currently looks like. Included with this form is a copy of their most recent testing and evaluation report, as well as their most recent IEP.

All of this information is then sent to our assistive technology representative for our county, who fortunately for us also happens to be a speech language pathologist. She then reviews all the information, contacts me, and we set up a time to meet and discuss the child's individual needs and what device we think may be most appropriate for him or her at the time.

In addition, a meeting is planned with the family and entire team so that we can discuss the family's goals for their child's communication and share our recommendations for what the child can/should use as a speaking device.

Once the device is delivered to our school (or I can go pick it up, whichever is more convenient), if necessary, I meet again with our representative so that she can train me on that particular device. At that point, the clock begins!

We (meaning the child and I) have approximately 6 or 8 weeks, depending on the device and the regulations set by the county, to use this device within the school setting. Only under special circumstances are children permitted to bring their communication device home, for the obvious reasons that in the past, they have often been returned damaged or programming has been undone, etc.

During our 6-8 week time period, I am required to keep data on the child's ability to use the device and track performance and progress. At the end of our allotted time, we meet again as a team to discuss whether or not we would like to re-reserve the device or try something different and possibly better suited for the child. Here is our process in a nutshell. What is yours? Do you find it effective? Please share how AAC needs are addressed in your district!

Happy Holidays!

8 comments

Just as I am a member of the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), I am also a member

March 13, 2012 8:17 AM

I carry my personal I Pad to work most every day.  I use to with a wide age range from 2 to 18.  I am currently filling out paperwork to acquire a Dynavox for a little one that is about to turn 3.  Is he great with it, no is he independently functional yet no, he has great potential.  He is able to comment and request using 1-2 choices.  That is a functional communication mode, just not independently functional.  He has completed that trial through Dynavox and now were are inconsistently using my I pad.  Like someone else said it can be used for a ton of things: motivation is a big factor, there are some good free speech aps, I have some kids that interact well just to turn the pages within an ap.  No child is the same, adapt a game to meet a need, I continue to love talking Carl.  Interaction is language, communication and speech.

Stacy Crawley, Clinic - Speech Pathologist, Childrens Therapy Services January 10, 2012 11:26 PM
Tyler TX

I am a special ed preschool teacher who is just starting to use an iPad in my classroom. its great to read the tips you send out each week and the responses from the reader and get new ideas to try in the classroom. Thanks for all the wonderful ideas that you present and to your readers for their ideas as well!%0d%0a

Kelly O'Connell O'Connell, , Preschool Special Educator WCESC December 22, 2011 4:16 PM
Maineville OH

Thank you for the feedback, Gloria and Tawni!!

Jennifer, I will share the form information for my Tuesday post, which is also when we can continue this discussion more! Not sure I can post it because it is a county document, but I can definitely give an overview of the type of questions that are asked.

Looking forward to hearing from more SLPs....! Great insight and feedback! Stephanie

stephanie bruno, blog author December 22, 2011 7:33 AM

I would love to get a look at the information form you complete for each student.  Is it in a format you could send?  Thanks!

Jennifer December 20, 2011 10:38 AM
Eugene OR

After my mini-novel about iPads for communication and therapy...I failed to answer your question. Our county office has iPods and iPads (along with a variety of devices) available for trial periods with a student. If the student shows benefit from a particular device, the county office purchases it for the student. The districts within the county office have different policies and inventories of devices, and most of them are moving painfully slow to meet current technology demands. Technology for communication has been around for 30 years, for goodness sakes! this is not a "new" concept!! The only "new" about it is easier accessibility and mainstream "acceptance." We FINALLY have the perfect conditions for AAC! Using an iPad to communicate is socially "cool," how awesome is that?!!!

Gloria Del Rio December 20, 2011 10:36 AM

I use an iPad with a variety of ages in my private practice. from 1 to 12 years old. It's a great tool to use with the minimally cognitive group to teach direct selection and to increase engagement. There are limitless possibilities with what you can do with it--from using it to teach pointing to basic concepts to increasing vocabulary to using it to make choices and communicate with. I think we are just barely scratching the surface on what we can do. Once you get one and start using it in therapy, it's like peeling away at an onion!

Tawni Miller, Speech Pathology - SLP, KidsTalk Therapy December 20, 2011 10:31 AM
Sumner WA

iPads and other mainstream devices are excellent considerations for an AAC system. They are more reasonably priced than traditional communication-dedicated devices, more socially acceptable, and more compact. Mainstream devices also provide the opportunities for other motivating learning activities within them. I've been using the iPad for preschool students since June 2011, and although it is not the "magic bullet," it has a time and place in our educational activities and as AAC device. It does not replace social interaction and teaching from an SLP or other trained professional. Parameters and boundaries need to be placed on how to use it (all the time for functional communication, sometimes for everything else). 95% of all my students (special education and regular education) literally perk-up when we have an iPad activity, but in all fairness, 99% of all my students perk-up when they get to make a choice from my cabinet of good-old-fashion preschool toys, games, and activities. This technology is not going away, SLPs need to be proactive, curious, and open-minded to explore technology options for students who can benefit from them. If it opens up functional communication for one person, it should be available to (at minimum) try with everyone else who may benefit. That's our job as SLPs.

(BTW boring artic therapy is A LOT more fun and motivating with technology, especially in preschool!)

Gloria, , SLP preschool December 20, 2011 10:24 AM
CA

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About this Blog


    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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