ARPDC Professional Development Resources
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Resources to Support the Complex Communication Needs (CCN) Population

Complex Communication Needs (CCN)

Children and youth with complex communication needs (CCN) benefit from assistive technology and augmentative and alternative communication to support communication and language development. Students who have complex communication needs are unable to communicate effectively using speech alone. They and their communication partners may benefit from using alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) methods, either temporarily or permanently.

AAC systems of communication do not rely on speech. Children and youth who require AAC may have some speech but not enough to meet their daily needs. AAC systems may be used to augment existing communication skills or provide an alternative to speech.

These resources are intended to provide professional learning for professionals working with children and youth in the complex communication needs population.

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The Implications of Adopting a Holistic and Multimodal Approach to Communication

Archived webinar from October 09, 2019 with Dr. Nicola Grove

As professionals planning and delivering interventions with children with disabilities, we all surely subscribe to the philosophy of Total Communication – the value of all modalities
and resources harnessed to support communication development. But what does this mean in practice? Are all modalities regarded as important? Do we really take account of children’s skills and preferences when we allocate resources?
What do we know about the affordances of particular modalities for functional communication purposes?

Manual signing is used worldwide by millions of Deaf people for whom it is a first or preferred language and with hundreds of thousands of individuals who have communication disabilities. The last half of the 20th century saw numerous research papers and practical resources dedicated to issues of how to teach, use and develop signing within the framework of Augmentative and Alternative Communication, but currently, these have been superseded by an almost exclusive focus on aided systems and devices. There are still remarkably few studies of signing development over time, or of everyday use. As a result, speech /pathologists and educators have limited resources on which they can draw to support the evidence- based practice to which they are committed.

A second critical issue is that there is increasing evidenceof deaf children who have additional needs and disabilities, whose signing is delayed or disordered. For these children, even with the support of cochlear implants, sign remains the primary communication system. There are also many hearing children with disabilities born to native signing Deaf parents. Teachers and therapists are in need of information about how best to plan intervention for these children.

The webinar will be based on the research and practice drawn together in the first-ever text dedicated to this topic – Manual Sign Acquisition in Children with Developmental Disabilities, edited by Nicola Grove and Kaisa Launonen (Nova, 2019). This book integrates findings from both sign language and Key Word Sign; considers practical issues of ntelligibility, vocabulary and semantics, grammar and pragmatics; and provides evidence of sign development in different clinical populations. You are invited to participate in this webinar by bringing your own experiences and questions for discussion.

Here are a few reoccurring questions that will be addressed in this webinar.
-What is the role of manual sign and gesture in AAC?
– Is there really any evidence that the effort involved in teaching signs to children with disabilities is worth it?
– Are aided systems or signs the best way to promote communication for children with various disabilities (eg. utism, cerebral palsy)?
– Are there prerequisite skills that should be taught before introducing children to manual sign?
– How can we encourage children to generalize their use of taught signs?
– Do signs increase stigma for children with disabilities by making them more conspicuous?
– Should we be promoting sign language or keyword sign systems with deaf children who have additional disabilities?
-Do children have a human right to use signs?

Length: 1:18:41

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