Updated: Jun 6
April is Occupational Therapy Month! Forbes AAC is so thankful for the OTs who provide valuable evaluation and treatment for our AAC users.
As part of the AAC assessment and intervention process, individuals will see many professionals including speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists.
According to ASHA (n.d.), AAC is an area of clinical practice that focuses on supplementing or compensating for impaired speech-language production and/or comprehension.
The SLPs role in AAC assessment and intervention includes:
Screening to determine if an individual may benefit from an AAC system
Providing assessment for low- and high-tech AAC systems
Advocate for the AAC user
Educating families, caregivers, and other professionals on the needs of the AAC user
Providing treatment and intervention
Aid in device programming support, modification of language systems, and trialing of additional systems as needed
SLPs often collaborate with other professionals to improve the success of AAC intervention, including occupational therapists!
Physical and occupational therapists can assist with positioning and selection methods for AAC users.
OTs play a crucial role in reducing barriers for those with fine and/or gross motor deficits, identifying alternate access methods, and maximizing access for successful and independent use of AAC.
According to Trujillo et al. (2020) "While SLPs are communication partners, OTs are needed to improve occupational performance and AAC device access by addressing motor, visual, and sensory systems. OTs can provide adaptations and recommend device features that improve AAC access, which in turn increases inclusion and equitable treatment for children."
AAC systems differ from person to person depending on many factors including their language, cognitive, motor, and visual needs.
OTs can provide professional recommendations for accommodations such as switches for access, mounts for device positioning, or a keyguard for fine motor needs.
They can provide recommendations for environmental accommodations such as physical positioning of the individual relative to the AAC device and modifications for seating and positioning.
Want to learn more? Check out our blog next week as we will have an occupational therapist with a guest blog post discussing her experience and expertise in AAC!
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (n.d.). Augmentative and Alternative Communication (Practice Portal). www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Professional-Issues/Augmentative-and-Alternative-Communication/
Trujillo, C., Monte, B. D., Conatser, M., Norris, G., Malmgren, T., Westcott, C., & Moritz, K. (2020). Establishing OT’s Distinct Value in AAC Evaluations for Children With Disabilities. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 74(4_Supplement_1), https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.74S1-PO4202
Katie Threlkeld, M.S., CCC-SLP is a licensed, ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist and the Educational Program Developer at Forbes AAC. She has over eight years of experience in AT and AAC assessment and treatment with both the pediatric and adult populations. Katie has presented at the state and national level on AAC topics and she has University teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate level.