Hello Fellow SLP’s –
Augmentative Communication has taken a leap in popularity in recent years, in part due to additional options in the market and also with changes in our state Medicaid Rules, all SLP’s are able to complete AAC Evaluations and make equipment recommendations for purchase. There is a growing concern in the state that many SLPs are not equipped with the knowledge, skills, or resources to effectively complete an evaluation, make good recommendations and support the equipment once it is acquired. Even the most seasoned SLPs can feel pressure from parents and vendors and schools to make recommendations that may not be clinically indicated. It is important that you, as the SLP, and the ultimately responsible party, are well-equipped to make informed clinical decisions and not rely on the vendors, parents or school personnel to make that decision for you.
NCACA is your state AAC organization and we are here to help. In this letter you will find resources and tips to help you navigate the world of AAC. Look for the annual NCACA conference as a resource to network with colleagues and learn the tools of the trade. Over the coming year, you will see more opportunities across the state to become familiar with AAC and sharpen your evaluation and treatment skills in this area.
Your NCACA wants you to be the captain of your evaluation!
AAC Evaluation Tips
Who’s steering your AAC evaluation? Do you have the skills to keep it on course? Or, are you tossed about by the latest technology, assertive vendors, well intentioned parents, school system rules, teacher preferences, low expectations, lack of knowledge, sparse resources?
- Presume your client is competent beyond what their expressive skills may indicate.
- Involve the parent as much as possible and listen to what they have to offer about their child and the communication needs.
- Separate out hardware and software needs; try multiple devices across the industry, not just one. Best practice guidelines recommend considering three distinct devices.
- Realize that the software is the major difference between the various equipment options; know your software and know what language expectations you have for your client.
- Use your local vendors for equipment and training, NOT to do your evaluation or recommendation. • Use templates and other resources to write your evaluation and recommendation reports but make sure you are the sole author; it is your signature and your license on the line!
- Remember Medicaid requires a device trial of 4 weeks; use it wisely to assist you in determining the best device match for your client.
- Make sure you have thought through the device delivery and set-up as well as initial training and ongoing support of the device.
- NC Augmentative Communication Association - http://www.ncaca.info/ - Find information on upcoming conferences, AAC Mentors, and AAC Conference every February!! Join the association today!
- NC Assistive Technology Program - http://www.ncatp.org/ - regional centers across the state that can lend equipment, help with evaluations, and provide additional resources. Conference in August of 2013!
- ASHA Documents
- Knowledge and Skills for AAC - http://www.asha.org/policy/KS2002-00067.htm
- Position Statement for AAC - http://www.asha.org/policy/PS2005-00113.htm
- ASHA AAC Practice Policy Documents - http://asha.org/slp/clinical/aac/
- ASHA Practice Portal - http://www.asha.org/practice-portal/
- School Based Clinician – check with your county about access to your Assistive Technology Team
- NC Medicaid Guidelines for the Evaluation and Purchase of Communication Devices (starts on page 57): www.ncdhhs.gov/dma/mp/dmepdf.pdf - Did you know these guidelines mandate that you meet the ASHA Knowledge and Skills for AAC as cited in #3 above?
- AAC Tech Connect – website with several free resources - http://www.aactechconnect.com/
- AAC Evaluation Genie - informative app for your iPad to assist you in the evaluation process: http://www.humpsoftware.com/aacevaluationgenie.html
- Local Vendors – NC has most major AAC industry companies represented by local vendors. These vendors can be a great resource for learning about equipment, equipment loans, the funding process, training and more. They are not a replacement for a thorough evaluation on the SLP’s part, but they can be of great assistance. The NCATP or the NCACA can give you the most current vendor information for our state.