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Coaching increased communication competence in AAC Users

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Typically developing children get over 2,000 hours of exposure to the language system that they are going to use before being expected to say their first words. AAC users, however, are often expected to use their systems as soon as they get them and stakeholders are expected to know how to support them. In order to get a similar level of exposure as their peers, a team approach where everyone uses AAC and is involved in decision making is required. Parents and team members must be supported to properly model, teach, and problem solve in order to promote growth. Just attending a training to learn skills is not enough. Research indicates that when ongoing follow up such as coaching is provided after a training, staff are far more likely to use the skill being trained. Therefore, a coaching model can successfully help students go from refusing to use their systems to ownership and using them for a variety of reasons with increased independence. When using the coaching model, the team works together with the AAC Specialist (the coach) to determine priorities with an emphasis on the skills that the student, educators, and parent(s) feel are most functional. They then determine the appropriate techniques to implement in order to support these priorities. This increased investment on the part of communication partners has lead to a decrease in the level of support that the educational team has needed from the AAC Specialist and an increase in functional AAC use.


Heidi Rabe    
Northern Suburban Special Education District
United States

Jennifer Knudson    
Norther Suburban Special Education District
United States


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