Sunday, 1 June 2014

I can...say thank you!

The African proverb "It takes a village to raise a child" rings especially true for the amazing people who support kids who use augmentative communication .  Supportive families, educators and community members are instrumental in the successful use of AC. This month, we'd like to recognize some of the dedicated people who try things out when there isn't certainty, who share their creative ideas, and who look for opportunities for their students to improve their active participation by using augmentative communication. We are so grateful to all those who support people who use AC. Have a great summer and we'll see you back in September!

There are so many people who we could feature in this month's blog!  We asked TVCC ACS clinicians to share some of the success stories that they see every day.  If you want to share your success stories, please contact us.

Mary & Sophie
Mary is an Educational Assistant at Ryerson Public School in London, ON.  She supports Sophie's communication using a variety of means including a communication dictionary, low tech symbol use and use of a speech generating device.  Sophie has difficulty with her vision and movement which makes touching symbols or a device tricky.  Mary is helping Sophie learn how to use switches that connect to a computer or device.  Mary is also helping Sophie learn how to use automatic and  step scanning to be able to make choices.  Mary has a great connection with Sophie and is dedicated to helping her discover how using augmentative communication can help her learn new things and develop friendships with her classmates and community.     

 Janet & Ethan
 Janet Lyle is an Educational Assistant at Mitchell Hepburn Public School in St. Thomas, ON.  She supports Ethan's use of his voice recognition software in combination with a voice amplifier to help him meet his writing needs.  Janet has helped Ethan to learn the voice recognition commands that he needs to use with this specialized software.  She also sets up his laptop, microphone and amplifier so that he can be successful.  Janet has encouraged Ethan to increase his independence in writing using this system and as a result he is now producing a larger volume of work on his own.  Way to go Janet and Ethan!
Sabrina, Carrie & Ali
Sabrina is a Teacher and Carrie is an Educational Assistant at Mitchell Hepburn Public School in St. Thomas, ON.  They both work with Ali to help him discover how he can use low tech and high tech ways to engage in writing. For example, they use a carpet square with Velcro letters and sight words to let Ali explore words and letters.  This allows Ali the ability to interact with the letters and words on his own.

Graham, Roseann, Nancy & Jorja

Graham is a Teacher and Rosann and Nancy are Educational Assistants at Fairmont Public School in London, ON.  They support Jorja's communication using a variety of means including use of a communication dictionary, use of an encoded core vocabulary on an eye gaze frame and use of a speech generating device. This team excels because they provide opportunities for communication throughout the day and model core vocabulary.  Graham has incorporated all Jorja's communication goals with her curriculum goals to help use core vocabulary to meet her educational needs.

Shelley & Jackson

Shelley is Jackson's Educational Assistant at John Wise Public School in St. Thomas, ON. Shelley is helping Jackson to gain more independence when using the computer.  He is currently using automatic scanning in Clicker 5 to participate in writing activities.  Shelley has learned how to use the software and customize new activities for Jackson.  Way to go!

Ms. Fredericks, Mrs. Pawlak, 
Noah & Hunter 

Mrs. Fredrick and Mrs. Pawlak at Knollwood Park Public school have done a fantastic job of helping Noah to learn how to use his new speech generating device in the classroom.  They have set up a communication station with many tools for Noah's peers to learn about his communication system so peers can help him use it throughout the day.  Noah's friends like Hunter offer great support to Noah and remind his to use his device when he is not understood and also encourage him to create full sentences.  Mrs Fredrick finds creative ways to encourage Noah to communicate and use his device within the curriculum in the classroom.  Way to go team!

Kelly & William
Ms. Kelly Austin, classroom teacher at FD Roosevelt in London, ON, has been supportive of her student Will from the moment we started exploring Augmentative Communication strategies last fall. Ms. Austin, along with educational assistants Mrs. Hutter and Mrs. Bradford, have learned how to add words, symbols and pictures that meet William’s needs.  More importantly, they have helped him use it in a natural way throughout the school day, reminding him to “have your voice ready” so he can use it whenever he needs it.  The school team has been teaching William new vocabulary to help expand his language, but also to give him a way to joke with others, tell peers what he thinks, and express  his good-natured self.  Ms. Austin and her team are always thinking of creative ways they can support students like Will in using AAC. They are using the strategies they’ve learned to incorporate a variety of symbols with other students in their class.  In her own words, Ms. Austin has been surprised and excited by how quickly Will has learned to use his device “to communicate new things, or use the symbols in new ways, all on his own.”

Ava & Lili, Sherry, Laura & Sue
A full-day kindergarten class at St. Jude’s Separate School is a busy place with lots of little voices exploring the world around them.  Among those voices is Ava’s; she uses the Touch Chat communication app to help her peers and school staff hear and understand what she wants or thinks.  Ava is able to talk about the weather and calendar at circle time, say her prayers, ask for help, participate in reading stories, and talk about her favourite activities just like her peers.  In addition to her own willingness to try new things, her success has been due to the wonderful team that supports her: Her mother, Lili, her teacher, Ms. Comiskey, and educational assistants, Ms. Boyce and Ms. McManus. In Lili’s own words, “As a parent, I try to do as much as I can for her but I recognize that it takes a dedicated team to make it all come together. The school team has been wonderful and are more than willing to do what it takes for Ava to succeed.”

Teachers and Educational Assistants at Ashley Oaks Public School

Teachers and Educational assistants in the Developmental Centre at Ashley Oaks Public School in London, ON, made communication a primary focus over this school year. They dedicated professional development time to learning more about Core vocabulary and partner assisted scanning, recognizing that putting these strategies in place could benefit all of the students under their care. Their enthusiasm and drive to learn more about what they could do to support students with complex communication needs was evident during the after schools workshops. Now they are putting that knowledge into practice by creating core vocabulary boards for their classrooms and modeling language for the students throughout the day. Kudos to all of the team, the teachers in other classes at the school and the administrators who put their support behind the training, and  - thanks for going the extra mile for your students!

Upcoming Events

ISAAC Conference
The 16th biennial conference of the International Society of Augmentative and Alternative Communication Conference. For those who have never attended an ISAAC conference, here is what you are missing: "The ISAAC Biennial Confe
rence program offers something for everyone with an interest in AAC. Presentations feature leading edge research, and clinical and educational interventions and innovations. People who use AAC share their experiences and perspectives. Posters focus on a wide range of topics, and the Exhibition showcases new technologies or applications of technology, products and services".
When: July 19-24, 2014

Where: Lisboa Congress Centre, Lisbon, Portugal

Don't forget to book for summer camp!!
Looking for a summer camp that will be unique, maybe a little challenging, but most of all fun? If your child is a TVCC client who uses a speech generating device, you will want to check out: "Setting the Stage" and "On With the Show"!
If you are not sure whether these camps are right for your child, check with your ACS clinician.
This year the camps run the week of August 25th - 29th. Register now to secure a spot! click on "opportunities to participate" on left side of screen

Summer AC Webinars
Ablenet University offers many FREE webinars.  Check them out: