There are so many AAC apps out there – trying to learn all of them so that you can help provide access to those most beneficial for those you work with can be overwhelming, to say the least!
However, let me reassure you that:
- You don’t have to learn ALL the AAC apps/devices simultaneously!
- You don’t have to know ALL the AAC apps/devices before you can start providing AAC therapy.
- You can take your time and learn the apps/devices – building up your knowledge and AAC app repertoire one step at a time!
To illustrate this point, let me share a little bit about my journey as an AAC-loving SLP. Hopefully, this will reassure you that you are doing wonderfully, right where you are.
When I started as an SLP, 20 years ago, my first job was in a small elementary school that had one classroom for each grade K-6, two Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Pre-K classes, and four additional self-contained ESE classrooms and I was the only SLP. My caseload was huge and I was constantly on the run. There were lots of things that were difficult about being the only SLP (I’m sure some of you can relate) but I also learned so many invaluable things that have helped me become the SLP I am today.
You may be thinking, “That’s great, but how does this all relate to AAC?” – I’m getting there I promise – just stick with me. 😉
The majority of the students in the four self-contained ESE classrooms, and some of the students in the ESE Pre-K classrooms were non or minimally speaking and needed access to AAC. Thankfully, I knew in grad school I wanted to work with AAC users, however, as a clinical fellow, I still had a lot to learn. But, I did it scared and jumped in with two feet!
As I was learning, on (and off) the job, Dynavox (before they were Tobii Dynavox) was the company that produced the first high-tech devices that I introduced and used with the students I was working with. There were other devices and companies out there and I knew a little bit about them but not everything or much – and that was ok. I started out learning about ONE system. I started on an even smaller scale, learning one feature, option, use, etc, and then moving on to the next.
See how I’m bringing this all back around?
No matter where you are on your AAC SLP journey, there will always be learning opportunities. Take your time, focus in on what you want to and/or need to learn, and start there.
- Have a learner that is using LAMP? Start there…
- Like the layout of Touchchat? Start there…
- Have a learner that needs bilingual support offered by Coughdrop? Start there…
- You get the idea…😀
Don’t forget that you can learn alongside your AAC users as well! That is definitely what I did during that first year as an AAC SLP – and beyond. I think that it is great to learn alongside your learners. It shows the learners that it is ok that they don’t know how to use the device perfectly immediately. You are demonstrating a growth mindset, problem-solving and so much more!
We don’t have the luxury, or the time, to wait to start providing AAC therapy until we know all the different systems, devices, etc – our learners need us now, just as we are, learning alongside them. So, what AAC system/device are you going to learn next?