I have a confession to make…when I took the AAC class in graduate school I hated it. I thought the technology was big and clunky (which back in the day it really was), the programming of devices was difficult (not untrue), and that as SLPs we really should focus on getting people to talk not use a machine (Eek! Can’t believe I thought this!). How naïve I was. How judgmental, how green. Fast forward to 3 years later when I was offered a job as an AAC specialist with a local ESD with barely any AAC training or experience. Not sure how I pulled that one off! I am good in an interview 😉. I took the job because I was wanting something to specialize in, and here was my opportunity.
Looking back on that time now, I marvel at my courage and my stupidity! It was 9 months of terrifying, and exhilarating, learning on the go. My adrenaline was in constant flow as I rushed around from school to school pretending to be an AAC specialist. I spent days pouring over device manuals, trying, and failing to program all the different devices I was supposed to be an “expert” on, and working with students and teachers on how to use devices in the classroom. I made a ton of mistakes, but in the “sink or swim” situation I had jumped into, I learned to swim and came to love AAC in the process.
I know AAC can be daunting. The plethora of devices to choose from is overwhelming. The software is continuously changing, and it can be difficult to get buy in from others on the team. Other common obstacles include overflowing caseload numbers and precious little time to commit to learning something that requires dedication and continued attention. That’s why you need to support of people like me who have come before you, fallen in the pit, climbed back out, and see the amazing things that AAC can offer to individuals with communication challenges. The truth is you can’t do it all by yourself. Sometimes you need to enlist the help of others who have guidance to share. That’s why I’m here. I am dedicated to helping you get your AAC questions answered whether it relates to devices, software, goal writing, treatment planning, or engaging the client or the team.
Let’s start a conversation about AAC. What areas of AAC are most challenging for you now? Where do you see room for growth?
I have been "doing" AAC for the bulk of my career. Along the way I have encountered situations that made my blood boil, humbled me, saddened me, and inspired me. I have also spent A LOT of time trying, failing, picking myself back up, and trying again. My goal is to share about the lessons I've learned and the people I have met along the way.