AAC Foundations: Small Steps toward Functional Communication

Presenter(s): Gretchen Hicks, MS, CCC-SLP & Linda Petersen, MS, CCC-SLP

The increased availability of advanced technologies along with the shift in schools to provide specialized services that effectively address the functional communication of students within inclusive environments is creating the need for SLPs to build their capacity in the area of augmentative/alternative communication (AAC). Traditionally, an “expert” model has been used to identify appropriate assistive technology for communication. The initial steps to AAC consideration and implementation are rooted in basic language development. One does not have to be an expert in AAC technology to begin moving a student toward AAC. This session will explore different tools and strategies that can help you monitor discrete progress as you help your students move from pre-symbolic to more symbolic, functional language systems.


Gretchen Hicks, M.S., CCC-SLP has been a speech-language pathologist for over 25 years. She received her BS from Centenary College and MS from UALR/UAMS. Gretchen has worked with children and adults in settings including an acute care hospital, university clinic and public schools but her favorite work setting was ACamp, a summer camp for kids with autism. Gretchen was the 1997 recipient of ASHA’s Louis DiCarlo Award for Clinical Achievement for her early work with telemedicine. She has presented at conferences and workshops in locations from Harrison, AR to Hamburg, Germany. She also holds a Special Education Director certification.

Linda Petersen, M.S., CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathology consultant with Easterseals Outreach. She has been practicing speech pathology in Arkansas for over 35 years. She received her BS from Henderson State University and her MS in Communication Disorders from UALR/UAMS. Linda is a member of ASHA and ArkSHA. Linda has worked in the public-school setting, in private practice and has assisted related service providers and educators across Arkansas schools specializing in students with significant needs in the areas of autism, augmentative and alternative communication, intellectual impairment, social/behavioral issues and/or assistive technology. Linda was the 1996 recipient of ASHA’s Louis DiCarlo Award for Clinical Achievement for her work in augmentative communication.


Disclosure for Gretchen Hicks

Financial Relationships: None
Non-financial Relationships: None

Disclosure for Linda Peterson

Financial Relationships: None
Non-financial Relationships: None

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