Welcome to Summer!
Welcome to the 3rd quarter newsletter for WI AAC Network. As I am writing this the whole world is trying to get back to normal and understanding everyone’s communities. Together we will get through this and be more understanding of what different groups of people might be going through and be more understanding. I remember a chat I had with my mentor Jon. We were chatting about how many groups use AAC. Jon said really it could be anyone who lost their voice or is nonverbal since birth. Then he said something to me that I will not forget. We need to adjust our work to each family we work with. That means when you are working with a family from a different background you need to find out what they believe in, what their values and traditions are. Let’s take a family from South Africa that just moved to our beautiful state of Wisconsin. They have a child who is eight and nonverbal. What if we go quick and get him a device without including his family. We take the risk of losing that family. We need to work together to make sure that the family members know that we value their input and ideas. That’s how we do it in the AAC community, involve all the communication stakeholders.
We have exciting news, adding two new members to our leadership team. They both come with skills and experiences that will add to our already amazing team. As you continue to live and learn from home remember we have mentors available to help your communicator.
This area of the newsletter is for AAC Communicators, their family members to connect with mentors. If your child would benefit from interacting with a more advanced communicator or if you would like to mentor a younger communicator email us. We will try to make the connection. If you are interested in being a mentor you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and please tell us about yourself and why you want to be a mentor. We also would like to know what kind of communication device you are using and what level you communicate, intermediate or advanced. We will try our best to match AAC communicators that live in the same area. If you are a professional that knows someone who would be a great mentor or have a student who would benefit from a mentor email me.
By Mike Hipple
WI AAC Network Leadership Team
We would like to introduce you to two new members. Catherine Kanter, is an associate clinical speech therapist at the Waisman Center Communication Aids and Systems Clinic. Dani White is an AAC communicator and speaker. Other members of the team are Mike Hipple, founder of WI AAC Network and speaker. Sue Hipple, proud parent of Mike and often presents with him on a variety of AAC topics. Sharon Redmon, assistive technology specialist and educator. Jennifer Schubring, a speech therapist for Green Bay school district and private practice specializing in AAC. Julie Gamradt, former Director at Communication Aids and Systems Clinic at Waisman Center. Kelly Fonner, consultant and trainer in assistive and education technology. The Network is a volunteer effort and greatly appreciates the leadership team and WATRN leader’s time and expertise.
Closing the Gap Conference Goes Virtual
This is your chance to go to the Midwest’s premier AAC conference without leaving home. It will be held online from October 28 thru November 11. There hundreds of presenters on everything AAC. Remember they offer a discounted registration rate for communicators and/or their family members. Check out the sessions at closingthegap.com/conference
TV is full of ads thanking healthcare professionals, first responders and police, postal workers, employees at the grocery store, employees in restaurants and delivery services, teachers, therapists and all other essential workers. The Network thanks all of them too but a HUGE thank you to all the communicators and their families. Parents and communicators lives were thrown upside down when school switched to an online learning format in March. As communicators and parents wait to hear what fall will bring one sure thing is the AAC community is a source of strength and information for you. Reach out to other families in your school district to see what other parents are doing, remember agencies and associations like Autism Society, United States Society for AAC, CP Center, ARC and of course Wisconsin AAC Network. So thanks for all you do. You may not actually put on a cape every morning when you get up but in my book each and every one of you are super heroes.
Some great reads for August
I read these books and I am recommending them. Mike Hipple
How Katie Got Her Voice is geared for first grade and up. Author is a speech therapist, Patricia L Mervine. Katie is starting at a new school where everyone has a nickname, but Katie is different. She can’t walk or talk. The school bans together to come up with a way to include Katie. I love her new nickname. The book is great for a class discussion with its twelve tips on how to talk with someone with different abilities. A great book for a new communicator and their class to read.
Say What You Will is geared for high school students. The author is Cammie McGovern. Amy, who is in her last year of high school, has CP and uses a communication device.
A tip on a good link…
This link was shared with me by Bridget Gilormini, MS-SLP with ForbesAAC as a great way for communicators to share how their devices work.
This is a Talker on Tar Heel Reader: https://tarheelreader.org/2020/02/20/this-is-a-talker/
Email us links and resources for us to share!
Wisconsin Assistive Technology Regional Network Online summer meeting for therapists and educators
One of the most amazing things about WATRN is our ability to bring our collective voices together from throughout the state to support each other. We will be holding another virtual meeting on Thursday, 8/13 from 10 am – 12 pm (2 hours) to discuss the upcoming school year. There is so much to be discussed. The agenda:
10-10:15 – Introductions
10:15-11:00 – Breakout rooms. Register for a room when you sign up.
- Engineering the Covid Classroom/Therapy room (Hosted by Sharon Redmon)
- Remote AT/AAC evals/modeling AAC ( Hosted by Jennifer Schubring)
- Working with families/coaching (Hosted by Mike and Sue Hipple)
- Behavior Regulation and Executive functioning in-home (virtual) and in the classroom ( Hosted by Cassie Frost)
- Online learning activities/ideas ( Hosted by Kelsey Osten)
All breakout rooms will be focusing on virtual learning or in school learning in the covid environment. It will be a discussion with everyone sharing ideas, asking questions, and discussing what’s worked for them, and supporting each other.
Please register on the Google Form ASAP if you can attend.
Registration link is on the 2019-2020 WATRN invitation in the Summer column: http://bit.ly/WATRN19-20
Due to the limited capacity for attendees, please only sign up if you can attend the meeting and participate in the breakout room discussions. Registration is first-come, first-served. If we reach capacity, a link to the meeting will be emailed out to the first 100 educators who teach in Wisconsin. If we do not reach that limit, registrations based on FCFS from other states will be considered. Attendees will be emailed a link to the Zoom meeting 24 hours before the meeting. All breakout room discussions will be moderated by a WATRN leader. This is your time to connect with others across the state and get a pulse on how others are tackling in-person and remote learning this school year focusing on Assistive Technology!
Jennifer Schubring, M.S., CCC-SLP