Thursday, January 23, 2014

Reheating old food for thought...

I have had the opportunity today to meet with several thoughtful professionals who are in the process of developing an Assistive Technology Team for a small rural school system here in North Carolina. I enjoy these meetings for several reasons. One, such discussions require that I take a closer look at my own work processes, and theoretical models.  Another reason is that with new programs and new people come new ideas and solutions.

One topic which we delved into is how do we determine "if someone get's new tech?" 

It's about the goals!
And again, we returned to the notion that "goals must drive technology". As an Occupational Therapist I was taught that a 'client-centered' evaluation informed the goals. The goals then informed the interventions.  The interventions 'should' then create the outcomes that were needed based on the evaluation.

Really, it's circular, and the same concept can be applied here with Assistive Technology.

The logic above protects us from just handing out technology because it's new and cool. If Johnny is struggling with the writing process, his IEP goals should be about writing. A possible intervention might be a dictation to scribe, raised line paper, word-processor, word-prediction software, or a laptop.

If Jill struggles with basic communication, her goals should be about functional communication.  A possible intervention may be a PODD, communication cards, Step-by-step, iTouch, or Dynavox.

I would not have a goal that spoke to Johnny or Jill mastering a word-prediction program, or using an iTouch, but I may have a short term objective addressing some of those component level skills.

As a team we are interested in what goal might require technology? We are interested in what modalities have the professionals tried already? What kind of progress is the student making towards their goals? If there are a number of proven but untried interventions we may ask the team to try such strategies first. Also, if the student is making progress on their progress reports, then likely, they don't need a layer of technology in their school life.

I'm interested in other folks thoughts on this subject. Anyone else care to weigh in?

Happy Therapy!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"Elephant Sighting" is Published!

Hey Tek-Ninjas! A few blogs ago I wrote about the new software iBook Author from Apple that allows one to write and publish books on iBook to be downloaded and read on Macs, or iDevices.  Well, shortly after that, I submitted a manuscript written by my nephew Niky, and illustrated by yours truly.

Today Elephant Sighting,  was approved and released to 51 countries!

Elephant Sighting can be downloaded here. My next step in this project, is to make a few editorial changes, and see how long the changes take to go into effect. I'll post when that is complete. 

In the meantime, please, rush out and download the free copy of Elephant Sighting. Who knows, in a few months Niky and I may decide to sell it rather than give it away. 

Happy writing!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

31st Annual NCACA Conference

Once again NCACA is putting on another conference here in the Triangle. If you live nearby, these are always great learning opportunities. 

This 31st Annual NCACA Conference is geared for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) consumers, family members and professionals. Dr. Carole Zangari will present practical strategies for building vocabulary in learners who use AAC.  Dr. Zangari will host a question-and-answer session on Thursday following lunch to assist with clarification of information and to address specific questions. Additionally, a special session, “Tech-it to the Limit: Using AAC/AT to Enhance Student Success” presented by Sue Porr, Debbie Reinhartsen, Becky Pretzel, Pat Byers from The Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will be a highlight. In addition, Celeste Helling will lead an adult-focused Make-it-take-it workshop. Friday, February 21st will consist of breakout sessions related to augmentative communication, literacy, assistive technology, family/consumer topics, vendor products and make-it-take-it workshops.

Learning Objectives
At the conclusion of this conference, participants should be able to:
• Describe current therapeutic and instructional strategies for AAC users
• Discuss implementation strategies for AAC users in a variety of settings
• Recall an array of low tech to high tech devices for use with AAC consumers
• Describe practical strategies for building vocabulary in learners who use AAC

Target Audience
This conference is designed for speech/language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, educators, para-professionals, families, and consumers interested in increasing their knowledge of AAC and assistive technology.

Durham Convention Center
301 W Morgan St, Durham, North Carolina 27701

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Blog to Follow!

My friend, co-worker, and sometimes guest blogger, Ashley Robinson has started her own blog! This is very exciting. Ashley's blog is called Everyday AAC. Ashley is a very thoughtful and skilled Speech Therapist. She has fresh ideas, and a tremendous amount of energy. Take a look, bookmark the blog, or follow it, as she is sure to write some very intriguing posts.
Happy Therapy!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Training Opportunity for Educators!

Recently Emily Keenum has hung her private shingle to provide training to educators.  

Ms. Keenum offers dynamic evidence based trainings to help grow student's socio-emotional skills. Her workshops are an effective way to facilitate your teachers addressing issues such as bullying, problem solving, and communication.

Also, I'd be remiss if I did not note that Ms. Keenum is my younger, smarter sister.

Happy Therapy!