Interview with an Assistive Technology Consultant/Professional Development Specialist
Today I would like to share the first part of my one-on-one interview with a trained speech language pathologist who is now using her speech and language knowledge and background to work as an Assistive Technology Consultant/ Professional Development Specialist. She has worked in the school setting for over 20 years with students ranging in age from 3-21. The majority of her experience over past years has been working with preschool aged children with Autism and Global Developmental Delays and she is now consulting with special education teams working with students in early intervention with varying augmentative communication needs.
For professional purposes she has chosen to remain anonymous for our interview.
Thank you so much for speaking with me today. Can you tell our readers about your background and your current position?
I am a trained Speech Language Pathologist. For the last 5 years part of my current position has involved consulting with teams who are working with students with augmentative communication needs.
What made you decide to move out of traditional therapy into this roll?
A series of professional opportunities presented themselves and I was offered a position that had AT Consultation as part of the job.
How many children are you servicing at this time?
Right now there are about 15 cases that are currently active.
Can you walk us through the referral and loan process for a communication device?
The referral process is pretty simple. It can come from any member of the IEP team who has identified concerns related to a child's current communication system. Some teams request help from the very beginning of the student's program while other teams try a few things and then ask for some help in determining the next steps.
In Pennsylvania, there are several different loan programs. Pennsylvania Institute for Assistive Technology (PIAT) is a statewide program that provides a wide variety of communication/assistive technology systems for loan. The Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) has a short term loan program as well. This program is funded through the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In many counties throughout the state, there are also loan programs through the local Intermediate Units.
As far as determining what device/system to borrow, that is dependent on the student and the team. Some teams know the device they would like to try and do not need the support of an AT Consultant. Other teams need some support guidance from an AT Consultant.
What criteria does/should a team look at when choosing a device for student?
Teams need to match features of the device with the strengths and needs of the child. Questions that the team needs to consider can include but are not limited to the following:
a) Can the student navigate from one screen to another?
b) How many pictures can a student manage on a screen/page?
c) What are the student's fine motor/gross motor skills like?
d) What are the student's visual skills like?
e) How will the student access the device? Can he/she accessing by directly selecting/touching the screen? Does the student need an alternate means of access (i.e. switch)?
Join me next week for the second part of our interview
as we discuss the growing popularity of the iPad as an AAC tool
and the vital information SLPs need to provide when presenting data to insurance companies.