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Enhancing Early Intervention: Engaging Early Childhood SLPs in the AAC process

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It is critical to provide augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) support at an early age with all general practice Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) having the knowledge and skills to provide entry-level AAC services. Despite recognizing the need for early intervention, SLPs who work outside of AAC service report a lack of confidence in their knowledge of AAC, decision-making skills and integration of available resources. A program was implanted at a children’s treatment centre to help encourage early intervention by providing support and training to early years SLPs to enhance their skills and knowledge in providing AAC intervention. Clinicians who had access to the program were surveyed before and after the implementation of the program. This project has some preliminary results to support its benefits, including an increase in the AAC knowledge-base for clinicians practicing in the early years’ service, integration of AAC intervention in the early year’s program, and a decrease of inappropriate referrals to the AAC service. Clients were exposed to low-tech options at an earlier age, communication needs were met with no or low-tech supports, and readiness skills were developed for high-tech systems. The total number of referrals and age of referral has also been impacted by the program. This program has increased connections between SLPs within the children’s treatment centre and beyond. The program will be described in detail and results will be shared to support the benefits to clients and their families, general practicing SLPs, as well as high tech AAC services.

Author(s):

Tracy Shepherd    
Thames Valley Children's Centre
Canada

Tiffany St. Pierre    
Thames Valley Children's Centre
Canada

 

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