AAC, AT, Families, Inclusion, Literacy, UDL

Florida Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists Winter Conference 2008

by Samuel Sennott
Here are some notes, and information from my experience at the FLASHA 2008 Winter Conference. It was an invigorating day that helped me to learn more about children, teaching, as well as research.

Part One

Autism and Sensory Workshop
by Marvie Ellis
“How are we going to get them there?” says Marvie Ellis. The lively presenter painted a picture of multidisciplinary approach filled with sensory integration techniques and engaging student focused instruction. The power of this workshop was in the passion of the presenter and her willingness to bend the genres of speech, OT, PT, and teaching. I look forward to reading her picture books about children with autism.
Marvie Ellis’ Blog Site:
Article by the Presenter: Five Issues Facing Families with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

Sound Bites:

  • I will always teach you before I show you and expect of you. (paraphrase) Speaking about an approach to working with children.
  • I am trying to help you use terminology that you could use to teach your grandmother about it. (paraphrase)
  • If you modulate your voice, you are stimulating my senses, (your saying) I’m approaching, sending information through your feet, and I have something interesting to see. (paraphrase) In speaking about a highly engaging style of getting children’s attention.
Interesting Books by the Author
Tacos Anyone Book Image
Keisha's Doors Book Image
Keisha’s Doors by Marvie Ellis

Part Two

Communication Partner Interventions to Target Early Language and Emergent Literacy Skills with Children who use AAC

by Jennifer Kent-Walsh, Ph.D. , CCC-SLP, S-LPC(C) University of Central Florida, e-portfolio of presenter

Department of CSD and leader of the regional center for FAAST

Article by the Presenter: Fostering Emergent Literacy for Children Who Require AAC

This workshop focused on a terrific study of how to help improve how communication partners interact with AAC users. This investigation was set in the context of a partner book read of engaging books. The simple training and intervention showed good results for increased communicative interactions, increases in both partner’s interest level, and generalization after the intervention. The presenter used a nice Wh-question format to guide the session. Also demonstrated was a powerful teaching strategy of using acronyms to help make the communication partners be more automatic in their approach.

The Before Video: Two peers are reading a book together. One girl is reading the book in a monotone voice and the other girl is listening. She has a Springboard, but is not using it.

The Intervention Video: The two girls are engaging in a lively read of the book, taking turns commenting and identifying characters and actions. They proceed to read after mentioning they want to test their predictions. Both girls are smiling and visibly enjoying the experience.

You can read an article on the topic, published in the electronic edition of the ASHA Leader here:

Communication Partner Interventions for Children Who Use AAC

Storybook Reading Across Culture and Language

Handouts that are Good Read Throughs from the Presenter’s Website:

Part Three

This small more personal group gathering of SLP’s was terrific. The conversations I had today were inspiring. From speaking to one of the presenter’s mother, to hearing a story about one of the first externships of a student from Nova Southeastern University, to meeting a couple of welcoming colleagues that invited me to their school, I enjoyed the connections made today.


February 25, 2008 Posted by | AAC, conference, ot, play, Special Education | Leave a comment

Apple Announcements

By Samuel Sennott

Were you hoping for the Apple PDA/Tablet with a 1.5 times form factor as the iPhone? I sure was and my hopes were dashed. I was also dreaming a bit, hoping for the Macbook tablet. Yet, based on the evidence described today, I think it is on the way. The new Macbook Air, the last of the big keynote announcements today, incorporates multi-touch technology in the trackpad. Touch technologies of this kind are not only hardware based, but software as well. The fact that Apple has the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and now increasing touch capabilities in the laptops gives hope for this.

Nonetheless, it was exciting hearing the Macworld updates today.

Watch the Keynote

I like the Time Capsule the best! It is a 500GB or 1 TB wireless hard drive/ airport extreme device that both backs up your Mac, as well as provides an innovative storage solution. No more slepping SDPro Boards or Audacity tweaked language banked samples around on flash memory every few minutes! Just kidding.

Yet, did you see the MacBook Air? macbook air

Can you really believe how thin it is? Check out the Macrumors article with some great enlargable images. Anyway, the solid state hard drive is the feature of the biggest interest to me. That means it is flash memory and not the spinning drives, we are used to. Much more durable for AAC devices and laptops for children.

The Apple movie rental system could be cool for many individuals with special needs. The integration between the OS and the many portable options is very nice.

Yet, the big one for assistive technology is the February release date of the developers kit. On your mark get set… Seriously, the newest Apple technologies give us hope, because of the literacy connections and the AAC connections similar to those described in the recent study: Children’s ideas for the design of AAC assistive technologies for young children with complex communication needs.

What do you think of the updates?

January 15, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, conference, Literacy, OLPC, One to One Computing, OS X, OTOT, Special Education, Uncategorized | 5 Comments


Here is a launcher of the posts related to ASHA 2007:

  1. Poster Boards of Interest at ASHA 2007
  2. AAC: Display Characteristics That Support Aided Symbol Use: Color & Animation at ASHA
  3. OLPC and AAC for the Developing World with Adam Bowker at ASHA 2007
  4. Evidence-Based AAC Interventions for Infants, Toddlers, & Preschoolers with Janice Light at ASHA
  5. AAC and OT by Aileen Costigan and Janice Light at ASHA
  6. Getting Beyond Imitation with Cynthia Cress at ASHA
  7. Survey of the Literacy Environment of Children With Down Syndrome at ASHA
  8. Gail Gillon’s Phonological Awareness Sessions at ASHA
  9. ASHA Thursday Morning: Evidenced Based Literacy Instruction for Individuals Who Require AAC
  10. ASHA Begins Images
  11. ASHA 2007 Boston Guide

Additionally, link to all the handouts for ASHA 2007 here.

The power of committed individuals, the power of research, and the combination of the power of actively engaged individuals with aac systems made a terrific impression on me at ASHA 2007 this year. Seeing the power that families have when they advocate for their children in all sorts of ways was something that will be indelibly in my mind from this experience. Seeing much clearer the importance of the research path has been such a weight off my shoulders. I see where I want to go forward and so I will. The combination of seeing all the work on early learning and aac use by Dr. Cynthia Cress, Dr. Janice Light, and the literacy work of Dr. Gail Gillon was so focusing and also so thought provoking. That combined with what we are seeing with the new systems from ALL the major companies is really good for the learners we serve and for us as teachers. Last, it really made me smile to see the Blink Twice Tango Town in the midst of this huge sea of the body that is speech and language pathology. It sure is a terrific time to be trying to help the people we serve.


November 25, 2007 Posted by | AAC, ASHA2007, conference | Leave a comment

Getting Beyond Imitation with Cynthia Cress at ASHA

By Samuel Charles Sennott

cress session post

Dr. Cynthia Cress, from UNL, taught terrific lessons about how to engage children in play activities that can be some of the most powerful forums for teaching communication. What do you think about how to integrate using play or recreation in early childhood communication work?

Download the handout for the session here.

Additionally, check out these other excellent resources from the same researcher/ teacher found here (From the always terrific UNL website).

Just, as I was starting to think this whole big, huge ASHA was a little over the top, I sneak my way into Dr. Cynthia Cress’ 8 AM session. I crawled over upset people and am sitting cross-legged on the floor in the front of the room with fifteen other people, all on the floor. This session is amazing. Dr. Cress, an early childhood AAC specialist from UNL is teaching the heck out of us.(fav. NC expression!) The concept she is teaching us is getting beyond imitation by using authentic experiences and in this case, play experiences to foster communication. There is this remarkable similarity to what Linda Burkhart teaches. There is something in me that intrinsicly connects to this message of active engagement for real reasons and I think it is because it is how I teach and what I desire to bring out in my students.

One of the excellent case studies is teaching about using AAC with a student with some language and she is telling about how using picture symbol communication is a great guide for facilitating speech. Dr. Cress says, “no kid in the world is going to give up on speech” What a great common sense interpretation of the research!

Another example is showing the power of student focused play activities that the speech work is naturally embedded in. This takes the pressure off the learner. There is a hilarious comparision of a young learner playing and vocalizing passionately and then another session of the therapist saying, “do this”. The child just looks at them like to say, “are you kidding?”

What comes out of this workshop is an excellent study in how we can work with children and their families in early childhood. One quick, very profound tip is to always provide a nonverbal way for turn taking in the play activity. What a great simple concept to teach a parent or to use when working with a child.

One classic quote that really made the group laugh was, “We are not real people: most people don’t pick up on all these communicative clues.” It made us laugh because she compared our hyper focused behavior to how people just play with their kids.

I missed her second session, but here is the handout: Age-Related Changes in Mastery Motivation for Children With Physical Impairments

November 24, 2007 Posted by | AAC, conference, play, Special Education, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ASHA Begins Images

By Samuel Charles Sennott

ASHA 2007 Icon

Walking from the Silver Line City Scape of Boston

Boston Asha

Heading Towards the Boston Convention Center

Boston Convention Center
Many People

people asha

Registration Line


Ready, Set, Go…

to Janice Light’s session on an AAC-RERC literacy instruction project!

November 15, 2007 Posted by | AAC, conference, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ASHA 2007 Boston Guide

Asha guide screenshot

ASHA 2007 Boston Guide

Downloads:  ASHA 2007 Boston Guide Word Document

Compiled by Samuel Sennott

I am very excited to attend ASHA 2007 in Boston. Teaching and working in Nova Southeastern University’s Speech and Language Clinic has gotten off to a terrific start. It is so exciting learning more about speech and language. Taking a few days to travel with my new team and colleagues to my home, Massachusetts, should be great. I compiled this guide to share something that may help that tough getting away process. The sections are Maps, Conference Planning Tools, Restaurants, and Things to Do.

ASHA convention Logo

November 7, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, conference, Special Education, Uncategorized | 5 Comments