Make Room for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Modeling “Experiment”

Two children sitting in the field each looking at their own device in front of them.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) modeling is important. Ask any AAC-knowledgeable speech-language pathologist, teacher, researcher, parent, or AAC app developer. Aided language input is common ground in the field of AAC, regardless of the language system you’re using. So if you support someone who uses AAC, this “experiment” applies to you.

If you use AAC, the aided language input piece may not be applicable, but feel free to choose something you’d like to improve within your AAC use and target it using this approach.

As I write this, I have that butterflies-in-my-stomach feeling. This is out of my comfort zone. I’m not a researcher, but I am a research fan and follower. I imagine it’s the feeling that a Garth Brooks fan would have if he/she were suddenly thrown onto stage at his concert and handed a microphone. Well, maybe not that extreme. Even if you sing “Friends in Low Places” really well on karaoke night, it doesn’t make you Garth Brooks.

Here’s my disclaimer: This isn’t a perfect scientific research experiment. If you’re an excellent researcher, there are going to be glaring things that are wrong with my design or my method, or the survey. Please forgive all of that because my goal in this is not to be a renowned researcher. All of that being said, I’m loosely using the words “research” and “experiment.”

My goal is for parents and professionals to find a way to support the people they know and love who use AAC. When I hear about strategies that work in other areas, I try to apply them to real life. Research in any field is only six degrees of separation* from AAC for me.

So it should come as no surprise that when I heard James Clear talking about implementation intentions on a podcast about social science, I immediately thought of AAC implementation intentions. (I wrote about the implementation intention research in this post in more detail earlier in the week.)

It sounded…easy. If this research works, AAC modeling will increase with a quick, minor change in your routine. Pretty exciting, right!?

Here’s the Plan!

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM), and the theme this year is Communication: The Key to Connection. Let’s do a little research about modeling AAC using motivation and planned implementations.

Here’s what I’m asking of you

Give AAC modeling a place to live within your day. Carve out the time to show your child/student(s) that communication is a priority. Put it in your schedule. We’re asking you to plan to communicate and connect with your student(s)/child(ten) who are using AAC. If you’re already doing that, that’s wonderful!

  1. Commit to modeling for (at least) 15 minutes a day for the next two weeks.
  2. Decide on a time and place that *should* give you 15 minutes of modeling time with the AAC user(s) in your life.
  3. Decide on a contingency plan. Unexpected things happen all the time. Plan around them for success.
  4. Complete the form below. Write it on your dry erase board in your kitchen. Put it in your calendar. Put a sticky note near the place you plan to model. Whatever you decide,  publish your intention so that you will see it every day for the next two weeks.

Modeling intention form to put your plan in writing.

The second thing we’re asking is that you keep track for 2 weeks (May 1st-15th, 2017) and complete a brief survey letting us know if it worked or not! Once you complete the survey, you’ll get a free t-shirt** for your time! You can use this weekly calendar to check off if you modeled or not, or you can do it in a way that works best for you.

Modeling implementation intention weekly calendar.

Here’s what I’m going to do

  1. Every day, for the next two weeks, I’ll post a “modeling motivator” on the Speak for Yourself Facebook page. I’ll share a post about aided language input, a success story, or a research article that reminds you that modeling is important.
  2. On May 15th, I’ll post a survey asking for your results. When you complete the survey, we’ll send you this t-shirt.** (The survey will include size options and mailing address information for t-shirt sending purposes only. We won’t use your identifying information for any other reason.) The survey will close on May 20th, 2017 at 11:59pm EST.
  3. Write about the results and post them by the end of May!

Blue t-shirt that reads: I (heart) when we speak AAC.

Thank you all so much for your excitement and participation! I can’t wait to see how it goes!

*If you’re not familiar with it, six degrees of separation is the idea that everything in the world and all living things are only six or fewer steps from each other.

**T-shirts will be sent to the first 100 survey participants ONLY. Due to shipping costs, t-shirts will only be sent to participants within the United States. I apologize for any disappointment. The shirts are meant to add fun and incentive to the project.

T-shirts can be purchased (at the same price we’re paying) here. If you need children’s sizes, they can be purchased here.

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