1999 Conference Proceedings

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Augmentative And Alternative Communication (AAC) with the ALS Population

Pat Ourand, MS, CCC-SLP
23 Kirwin Court
Baltimore, MD 21234
410-661-8894 - voice
410-661-3031 - fax
e-mail: Pourand@home.com


This presentation will focus on the areas to consider when evaluating individuals with progressive or other neurological disorders. A variety of communication options, strategies and techniques that are currently available for individuals will be presented and discussed.

The presenter will provide examples of no tech and low tech, as well as high tech systems of communication that have proven successful. The session will also include video samples of a variety of communication strategies currently being used by individuals. As available, actual systems, devices, strategies and techniques will be demonstrated throughout the session. This demonstration will also include a variety of slides and videotape presentations.


ALS - A New Era

ALS: Diagnostic Criteria from the World Federation of Neurology El Escorial

ALS Demographics

ALS Risk Factors

Types Of Motor Neuron Disease

Types Of ALS

An Interdisciplinary Team approach is critical in the provision of AAC services for individuals with disabilities. The team members may include, but are not limited to:

Considerations for technology solutions may include various levels of technology. No technology (e.g., pointing / gestures / sign language; Yes-No questions; eye gaze) is used at some point with each and every individual. The use of low technology may include, but is note limited to direct selection to a word/alphabet board, direct selection to a object/picture board, partner-directed scanning, row/column or column/row scanning; category or color coding. The breakdown of high technology usually considers either a dedicated system (e.g., speech output) or multi-purpose system (speech and written output).

A systematic selection process can be incorporated whenever consider technology-based solutions. The multiple steps of this process include:

Maximizing the user’s system is critical in the design of an AAC configuration. By definition this means "accommodating the system user by individualizing the selected interface device, the system controller, and the environmental interaction to allow the user to gain maximum benefit (output) from minimal input." This requires that the educational professional possess sufficient knowledge of the available equipment, as well as the individualized needs of the user.

All AAC systems are multi-component communication systems regardless of the simplicity of the design or limitations of the output. These design features confirm that the AAC system::

System specific questions that can be asked by clinicians recommending, or consumers utilizing AAC include:

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