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AAC Bootcamp: A Communication Partner Training Program to improve Augmentative and Alternative Communication Skills

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This presentation will discuss a training program implemented at Children's Hospital Colorado for caregivers to learn strategies to support their child’s communication. Research has shown that short term intervention focused on parent implementation of strategies, learned in a clinical setting, and then carried over at home can increase speech and symbol use (Romski, Sevcik, Adamson, Cheslock, 2006). Furthermore, a formal instructional model created by Kent-Walsh & McNaughton (2005) has proven effective to train communication partners from different linguistic backgrounds at home, and in schools (Binger, Kent- Walsh et al., 2008, 2010). This instructional model for storybook reading was used initially in the clinic, then generalized for activities in natural environments. Furthermore, as purported by (Danielson, 2006), such training opportunities can be most effective when collaboration with families and consumers is included. Thus, the program also aimed to empower the families by exposing them to people “who have been in their shoes”. This included involvement of a proficient adult augmented communicator that could serve as a role-model, and a parent who had experienced the process of raising a child with AAC needs. Two individuals who represented these two groups were recruited, hired and trained as assistant instructors to help form a vision for the future of these families. This collaboration provided an opportunity for the AAC mentor to continue to develop their skills, gain employment experiences, and share their knowledge. Outcome measurements included a summary of changes in length of utterance, and communicative turns during literacy and leisure activities.


Maija Gulens    
Children's Hospital Colorado
United States

Amy Frisbie    
Children's Hospital Colorado
United States


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