Wednesday, 1 June 2011

I can...keep on talking!

Summer is here again! Just a few more weeks of school, followed by the best time of the year… summer vacation! Here are a few thoughts for anyone who wants to take a few moments in the summer to tune up those communication skills or even to plan ahead for September!

Thanks for reading I Can this year – we hope to be back in the Fall!

Do you know about the AAC Curriculum?
“Students with severe communication difficulties require augmentative and alternative forms of communication. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is essential for the student to participate fully in their high school program, and ultimately to reach their full potential to live independently, have appropriate career opportunities, and to live rewarding and fulfilling lives. The mastery of AAC involves the acquisition of competencies that speaking students must acquire to become effective communicators. These competences, which fall in the linguistic, social-relational, strategic & operational domains… need to be taught systematically and sequentially”  [AAC Curriculum Documents (2008), Augmentative and Alternative Communication Skills and Strategies, p.2]
Over the 2010/2011 school year, Duncan and his team have been working towards obtaining High School credits through the AAC Curriculum. Duncan is a 17-year-old student who uses a Vmax speech-generating device as a primary mode of communication in the school setting. AAC Curriculum was developed by Special Education Technologies in British Columbia specifically for students who use AAC devices. This course supports students through various levels of competency in using their AAC devices for academic and social purposes. Recently this opportunity has been made available to some students in Ontario who are supported by representatives from AAC clinics.

When working on this curriculum, students using AAC are provided with the needed time to work on essential communication skills while achieving a high school credit for their effort.  Instructional components are developed to meet the individual needs of the student and the teacher is provided with the necessary tools to teach their students how to use these systems proficiently. Specific outcome measure tools are provided, which enable teachers to assess ongoing progress of their students.

Progress toward curriculum goals is targeted through a combination of instruction during the school day, and practice of skills in the school setting, at home and in the community. If you know a High School student like Duncan who would be interested in this opportunity, talk to your ACS clinician about the possibilities.

No-Tech Ideas

Light Tech Ideas

 Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt! Your child who uses an introductory speech-generating device can be in charge of issuing the challenges. Work together ahead of time to program an overlay or sequence of messages. Your child can then decide what you need to be searching for whilst out on your walk. “Find something with stripes”, “Find the letter m”, “Point to a funny shaped cloud”.


High Tech Ideas

  • Send a card to your teacher to thank them for a great year!!!  Go to and use keyboard or switches to write your card online.
  • Did you know that some e-mail accounts are more secure than others? Do your research when using web-based e-mail so that you make the right choices to help keep your information safe.  

Summer Events:
·         Do you know where Skye is?  Follow Skye across Canada and tune in for details of campaign activities:
·         Take a drive to Owen Sound on June 30th to cheer Skye into town and to take part in the local events surrounding Kilometres for Communication. Talk to your ACS clinician for more details.
·         Sign up for summer camps! The OTP brochure (Opportunities to Participate) is at 
·         Save the date! Come see the shows! Setting the Stage & On with the Show actors invite you to come see the performances on Friday August 26th 10.00am at the Spriet Family Theatre in Covent Garden Market in London. Come early to get a good seat! 
·         Making time for making changes. Connect with your ACS clinicians over the summer to talk about support for reviewing vocabulary, training around device programming, functional communication training, computer access, etc.

I Can…be a Star!

Keira is 5 years old and is much happier now that people have learned how to communicate with her successfully.  Keira’s team has worked together to identify how she communicates “yes” and “no” and what a difference this has made! She now understands the power of communication, which will open up so many more possibilities for her. Keira also amazed everyone when she learned how to use not just one, but two switches to control her switch toys! Way to go Keira! 

Recently the spotlight shone on Ethan, when he was Best Man at a family wedding. As is tradition, Ethan gave a speech to help the happy couple celebrate their day. He was a star using his V speech-generating device with his switches. Great job Ethan!
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