AAC experts have a myriad number of evaluation tools. As we all know, ‘a one size fits all’ approach will not help while evaluating communication needs. Communication is a complex process. A tool that is appropriate to evaluate a particular communicator depends on their communicative independence. The AAC Planning Tool is a guide to choose the appropriate tools for the communicator by collaborating with all stakeholders. Read this blog to know more.
AAC Planning Tool (APT)
AAC Planning tool (APT) is a comprehensive guide of various AAC assessment tools available. APT was developed by the Grant Wood Area Education Agency AAC Resource Team in Iowa.
In the US, school districts traditionally call an AAC expert whenever the IEP team is working with a child with complex communication needs. The expert then developed a support system based on their interaction with the child. However, the expert model is not sustainable.
The expert model works by leaning on, rather than, building capacity. This led to the team in Iowa to build a system that meets the diverse needs to make the SLPs and IEP teams self-sustainable.
How is APT Unique?
APT identifies and categorizes the AAC user into four categories based on their level of communicative independence (adapted from Patricia Dowden’s work at University of Washington).
- Emergent Pre-Symbolic Communicator
- Emergent Symbolic Communicator
- Context Dependent Communicator
- Independent Communicator
Emergent Pre-Symbolic Communicators may or may not exhibit a clear intent of communication. They depend on behaviors as a mode of communication.
Emergent Symbolic Communicators, on the other, start exhibiting a clear intention to communicate. They use concrete, single symbols like tactile objects and pictures to communicate.
Context Dependent Communicators exhibit a more consistent intent to communicate. They can combine two or more symbols.
Independent Communicators are more consistent in combining two or more symbols. They can also communicate across various contexts and with multiple partners. They begin to exhibit a novel and wide range of communicative intents.
APT – A Complete Package
APT packages the various available assessment tools like Communication Matrix, Communication Partner Worksheet, AAC Evaluation Genie etc. together. The tools are categorized on the basis of the user’s level and type. This package can be used by various people linked with the child with complex communication needs. Since it is not possible for the SLPs to gather all the information by themselves, inputs from IEP teams prove to be very valuable. SLPs and the IEP teams can work together to come up with a meaningful communication/learning goal. They can co-review APT together.
APT not only serves as a guide to various tools available, it also helps narrow down to the ones that are appropriate as per the level of communicative independence.