Data collection with AAC systems can be really tricky! How do I collect data without testing the student with questions like “Find _______ on your talker!”?!⠀
Let’s start by looking at the goal suggestions I have in my speech therapy goal bank:
· NAME will independently navigate to 4 different, contextually appropriate pages within his “Group” folder within a 30 minute activity.
· Given 1 verbal cue, NAME will combine 2 or more symbols to make requests in 70% of opportunities during routine or semi-structured activities.
· Given 1 cue, NAME will use greetings on his “Social” page to respond to adults and peers in 3 out of 5 opportunities.
· When NAME wants a particular item or activity, he will use his communication device to make a specific request and bring it within 3 feet of a communication partner in 50% of observed opportunities given 1 verbal and gestural prompt.
These goals are all MEASURABLE! You can easily take data on any of these goals during a session.
These goals are all FUNCTIONAL! Do we really care if our students can match or find as requested? Sometimes that might be the goal, but generally, the point of AAC is to acquire a method of communication. Matching and finding are perhaps foundational skills, but they aren’t communication.
Once you have identified the communicative behavior you want to work on, you need to consider the level of prompting.
Naturally, when you introduce a new skill, you’ll have to break it down in steps and provide prompts or cues.
In my experience, teaching other team members, including teachers and paraprofessionals about prompting is pretty important. We need to help them identify the prompts they are using, make sure we aren’t over-prompting/over-cueing, and come up with a prompt-fading plan.
Take a look at all of these types of cues from my FREE Data Collection Cheat Sheet (available on my Freebies page).
There are so many ways we prompt our students!
Just remember to be mindful. When taking data, make a note of what cues are being used to achieve the student’s level of mastery. Pay attention to the cues being used and remember that independence is the ultimate goal.
⠀There are some really important skills that need to happen with AAC devices. When a student abandons a device or isn’t using a device, it’s usually because there isn’t buy-in from the team. How do we motivate the team to remember and use best practices?
Or what about students who just aren’t ready for the goals I listed above? What are some good beginner AAC data points?
My advice? Take data on what YOU and other communication partners are doing. ⠀
🔹Take data on how often the student has access to their system throughout the day.⠀
🔹Take data on how many opportunities they had to use their device today.⠀
🔹Take data on how often adults are modeling on the device.⠀
🔹Record vocabulary words and communication functions you’re targeting. ⠀
🔹Sometimes, I even take data on attention to modeling! I love seeing my student’s attention to modeling increase as they learn the power their AAC system has!⠀
There’s so many things we can work to streamline and improve while we are waiting for our students’ confidence, skill, and familiarity with the AAC system to improve. ✅⠀
Doing this takes the pressure off of our students and truly sets them up for success!⠀
Looking for other helpful data collection ideas for AAC? I’ve got a ton of ideas (including editable versions of the forms!!) in my AAC Implementation Toolkit. ⠀
PS: For students using their devices and demonstrating success with it, then I start taking data just like I would for any other student working on language! That’s often daily, paper-based, simple data and monthly progress monitoring using SLP Toolkit! Hope that helps!