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Interdisciplinary Teamwork and Parent-Professional Collaboration: Developing Individualized AAC Systems for Students with Multiple Disabilities

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When developing an individualized AAC system for children with complex communication needs, it is imperative to take a collaborative approach to assessment, intervention and ongoing development in order to yield optimal results. Every member of the team plays a unique role. In this presentation, an OT and SLP will provide their unique perspectives on the successes and challenges of ongoing AAC system development using the teamwork model in a school setting. Each will provide analysis of their unique role during evaluation, design, and intervention process. The SLP has specialized training and skills in assessing expressive and receptive language skills and determining communication needs. They have knowledge of AAC technology, language development, vocabulary selection and organization, as well as related evidence-based practice. The OT has training in the assessment of successful access methods, based on a multi-sensory approach within the environmental context of the child. This includes development of a purposeful, energy conserving movement patterns, which provide consistent and accurate switch access for communication. Additionally, the OT may complete a functional visual evaluation to determine the necessary environmental adaptations for optimal use of vision. The parent has the unique perspective of the child’s wants and needs at home, in school, and in the community. The child is the expert on him/herself. The teacher provides information about the communication needs of the student within the classroom environment, and troubleshoots issues throughout the school day related to both vocabulary and access needs. Successful methods of communication and collaboration will be discussed.


Jacqueline Rowland    
HMS School For Children with Cerebral Palsy
United States

Annabeth Martino    
HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy
United States


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