ATIA Conference 2018

Have you ever had dreams of walking around in a land filled with switches, mounts, AAC apps and devices, and knowledgeable vendors?

Just me? Oh. That’s embarrassing.

Well, my inner AAC nerd lived out her fantasy at the ATIA convention in Orlando, FL last week.


ATIA (Assistive Technology Industry Association) has a yearly convention that extends past our field of Speech Pathology. I was blown away by the lectures, resources, and exhibits. You think you know assistive technology…and then you realize that your knowledge is just the tip of this wonderfully diversified iceberg.

You can find handouts from the lectures here.

I registered for a one-day pass and spent Thursday, February 1st shuffling between lectures and having some “fan girl” moments (yes, I waved down Karen Erickson, and no, she didn’t have a clue who I was).

I scored some fantastic goodies at the exhibit hall, including core boards from CoughDrop, Saltillo, Proloquo2Go, and LAMP Words for Life.


I absolutely loved this calendar from Saltillo, which has activities and core words for each month!


It was so much fun to network and meet with AAC Vendors and other professionals who I've been in communication with for close to a year (but never met in person)! That's the thing about this AAC community... we are truly there to support, encourage, and help each other out!

Of course I had to make a stop at Carole Zangari and Jennifer O'Brien's poster presentation: "Supporting Improved Literacy Instruction for Individuals with Significant Disabilities". I have been blessed and honored to work with these two knowledgeable and encouraging professionals! Their presentation delves into a project that used supportive strategies in different stages of face-to-face instruction to increase the quality of teaching literacy skills to individuals with significant disabilities. 

Pati King-DeBaun's session, "Supportive Reading Strategies for Young Children with Significant Language Impairments" was so informative and answered many of my nagging questions about supporting kiddos in this population. Check out King-DeBaun's resource "My Own Books 2 Go" here. I think this is a resource that many of us have been looking for. It has a plethora of books that are adapted for use online, on iPads, and in printable formats.

Whether you're new to the world of AAC or you're a seasoned veteran, there is SO much to learn at the ATIA conference. I highly recommend checking out next year's convention in Orlando, FL, January 30 – February 2, 2019.

Until next time!


"Make it Work" Monday

Oh, Monday... for some odd reason, coffee has zero effect on me today. Strange.

This week's "Make it Work" Monday was made possible by a little friend who decided that he was having a "been there, done that" day with my materials closet. This was until he spotted the still-plastic-wrapped box of  "Wash My Underpants" (a game found in the endless Narnia-like 'fun finds' section of Target). 


There are so many different uses for this material! Besides playing the game in it's traditional sense, you can match pairs of underwear, identify and label concepts like "same vs different", "colors", practice quantitative concepts (such as "more"/"most"), label object function, follow simple and complex commands, practice those core words ("put in", "take out", "clean", "dirty"), use descriptors, take turns...the list goes on and on and on!

...AND he had fun. #winning

Until next time :)



Flashback Friday - January 19, 2018

This week's Flashback Friday is dedicated to an amazing family who has embraced AAC with dedication and grace! It warms my heart to see all of the hard work that they have put into creating an AAC-rich environment at home and on-the-go! 


Posted in the child's room is a simple visual of some AAC "Dos and Don'ts". The family also has text and symbol-based forms of the "Communication Bill of Rights" 


And yes - mom has even created a core word list of the week for the entire year! WAY TO GO! She has found it helpful to have a small chalkboard in her child's playroom with the core words of both the current and previous weeks. This way, any communication partner is aware of the target words as soon as they walk through the door. This is a great way to keep everyone on the same page!


Yes, a word wall!!! This is so phenomenal. Mom has been keeping literacy in mind with this beautiful word wall in her child's bedroom. Each week, the target core words are added to his word wall under the appropriate beginning sound. 

Hopefully this gives some good ideas of what can be used at home to encourage modeling and use of the AAC device. If you've found some fun ideas for around the home, send it our way!

"Make It Work" Monday - January 8, 2018

Hey everyone!

Welcome to the very first "Make it Work" Monday of the new year! This is for those moments when you get stuck in traffic on the way to see a client or you're at the office and you've spent so much time talking to a parent or coworker that you barely have time to "prepare" for your next session! 

This is also for those moments where you have planned out the "perfect" lesson, giving each activity a purpose, pouring all of your heart and soul into it....only to hear your kiddo say, "no", or "I don't want to do that!"

Let's face it, we've ALL been there!

I always tell graduate student clinicians during their externships that it is not about "finding" the perfect activity. It's about being FLEXIBLE! If your kiddo doesn't want to play Honey Bee Tree, quickly chuck it and grab something else! If the kiddos aren't having fun, chances are they're probably not paying attention to what you're trying to teach them anyways.

Another KEY point that I try to make to graduate students and fresh SLPs is that our planning and focus should be heavily based in the evidence-based instructional strategies more so than the activity itself. (i.e. If you're working on the Cycles approach with kiddo who has a phonological disorder, your planning time is better spent on coming up with a good set of target words FIRST, and activity second).

Today was one of those days for me! I found myself rushing around (as usual) and just grabbed the first few items I could reach in my trunk.

This included Mindware KEVA Contraptions:


BOY OH BOY are my kiddos obsessed with this game. Why? There is SO much versatility (and they get to knock it all down like Godzilla when we're finished). Last week, I worked on core vocab words with an AAC kiddo ("put on", "up", "take off", "stop", "go", "my turn", "your turn", "watch", etc. Today, I worked on speech intelligibility with a younger child. I'll probably use this to model bumpy and smooth speech this week as well (you can make a straight ramp and a zig-zag one!)

You're given a set of wooden blocks and 2 balls. The box comes with a book that shows you a variety of ways to set it up, but honestly I'm one of those people that throws away the instruction manual, so we just went on the fly.  At one point, we even stopped using the balls it came with and just built castles and houses and we used our little animal figurines for play. I'm telling you, this is a keeper!

Have a fabulous remainder of your Monday!


(As a disclosure, I am not paid to endorse any specific products. These are just some items that I've found fun and useful.)

ASHA 2017 Convention Review

I am so excited to introduce my very first guest blogger, Giana Corrado, MS, CCC-SLP of Speech and Learning Institute in North Palm Beach, Florida! You might also know her from @missgspeechtherapy on instagram! Giana and I have known each other since graduate school and she is a fabulous clinician! 

I begged her to keep me posted on the "goings-on" at this year's ASHA convention in LA, since I was unable to attend. Here's what she had to say:




Hi everyone! I’m so thrilled my lovely friend Krista asked me to write a guest blog post for the month of November about my experience at the ASHA 2017 convention in Los Angeles! First, a little intro about me. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore in 2012. I then ventured down the Sunshine State to attend Nova Southeastern University to complete my Master’s degree, where I met Krista! She has been such a great resource/friend to have over the years. I currently work at a private practice called the Speech and Learning Institute in North Palm Beach. I completed my CF there and received my C’s in April 2017. I mainly work with the pediatric population and my specific interests include children with Autism, as well as language delayed preschoolers/early intervention.


Now, on to the conference! This was my second year attending. I think I enjoyed it more this year, now that I’ve been working in the field for a year and a half. I had a better idea of which sessions I wanted to attend, and what I wanted to expand my knowledge on. One of the sessions that caught my eye from the get-go while browsing through the program planner 2 weeks before (so Type A, I know) was a session called “Infants and Children Prenatally Exposed to Drugs: Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes.” Now, while I do not work in the NICU with babies who are born addicted and are currently withdrawing, I do have several clients on my caseload who were born addicted and are now school-aged. These kids are still dealing with the life-long issues that come with this territory. Therefore, I wanted to expand my knowledge on this very specific group.


It was eye-opening to learn about the effects on communication as well as cognition/behavior which I see in my clients every day. Some of these include: significantly lower scores on a variety of language assessments, difficulties with attention and behavior, and the number one effect, which I think stands out the most: ADHD. At birth, it makes sense that a baby’s neurological system is over-stimulated; it’s essentially in over-drive from the withdrawal. But....these effects are long-lasting, and according to the presenters, ADHD symptoms start to show up around 5 years old. So, if you have a child on your caseload who seems to present with severe ADHD at a young age, take a look through the medical history and see if they suffered from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. It’s important to note that I don’t just mean a “hyper” kid; I’m talking about a constant need to be moving or fidgeting (rocking in chairs, biting pencils.) Truly an inability to sit and attend to a task. As these children reach their teen years, you’re looking at problems with perceptual reasoning, abstract reasoning, and problem solving. Executive function skills can be seriously compromised for this group. While the presentation did not focus on specific therapeutic interventions for this population, I feel as if I received enough information about what areas of language need to be targeted and therefore I can come up with my own activities based on that.


Of course everyone’s favorite part of ASHA is walking around the exhibit hall and seeing how much money they can spend/save on materials. Although I made out like a bandit at Super Duper, I also came across a newer (and smaller) company that sold some AWESOME materials. It’s called Speech Corner, and it’s out of Arizona ( They have similar products to Super Duper, especially their expansive collection of card decks for various language and articulation goals. My favorite product that I purchased from them is called the Vocabulary Treasure Trove. It’s basically a box filled with multiple card decks for higher-level language and vocab (antonyms, synonyms, multiple meaning, context clues.) So nice to have everything in one box and not have to print out a million worksheets for my school-aged clients! Check out their products, I promise you will not be disappointed!


Well, I could write on forever but I think I’ll stop here! Hope everyone who read this got some good insight into this year’s convention! I’m definitely looking forward to next year’s in Boston (although not the cold!)