Sunday, July 24, 2011
As I've stated before, I'm a relatively "newly minted" speech therapist. I am fully licensed and now have my CCCs, but to put it in perspective, I graduated from my Masters program in May 2010. What does this mean? I still do have plenty to learn that the books just can't teach you!

So I would like to share about one of my most recent learning experiences --AAC Device Trials, Reports, and Other Joys... 

Let me get less jargony here -- AAC stands for Alternative Augmentative Communication. This basically means any/all alternatives to using only verbal language. AAC includes things like gestures, complex gestural language systems (think: ASL), pictures, buttons you press to talk, and computers that talk for you. An AAC device is any type of electronic device that helps in communication efforts. There are things like a "BIGmack" -- a big button that can activate a mechanical device, or can hold a recorded message. On the more complex end of the spectrum are what we call "Speech Generating Devices" -- ones like an iPad or a DynaVox Maestro. These devices are used to generate speech -- whether it be an electronic, artificial voice, or a pre-recorded voice. There is a lot of terminology with AAC, and I hope to dedicate a post to some of the bigger ones to explain it better. But for now, this will have to do.

Although I studied AAC in graduate school, experience is the best teacher. I have observed AAC evaluations in the past (several) and have written mock AAC device reports. Recently, I conducted four AAC evaluations at my practice.

I have to say, my DynaVox representative is amazing. As I don't have a device within my practice, I naturally have a lot of questions about how to go about the process.

I do have to say though, the report that Medicaid currently requires for approval to cover AAC devices is a beast. It is a rather lengthy report, so prepare yourself. I'm still trudging through mine, but I plan to finish them tonight. Energy drink anyone?

DynaVox is really good about helping to make the process easier. I haven't dealt with any other companies, but it is promising to see that the process has been simplified.

An area of AAC that I really would love to get into is the use of iPads as AAC devices. I don't have an iPad right now, but in the future I do plan to buy one. A good AAC program on the iPad that I have seen in use is Proloquo2Go.

I will write more as I enter the next steps of the approval processes.

Off to work on reports. Reportate. Reportation.