Talking - or Being - With the Animals: A Natural Part of AAC SolutionsBy Murphy, Patti; Closing the Gap, Vol. 27, No. 6, pp. 17-19
Publication Date: February/March 2009
Article discusses animal-assisted therapy (AAT) in combination with alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) for children with communication disabilities. Featured in the article are 3 treatment programs: (1) At Nature’s Edge Therapy Center in Wisconsin, a child with pervasive developmental disorder including apraxia of speech receives speech therapy which combines use of a DynaVox V AAC device with hippotherapy, a muscle-strengthening workout that consists of riding horses and provides opportunities for communication such as uttering “stop” and “go” commands using the DynaVox. (2) CommuniK-9, the clinical practice of a speech-language pathologist, uses dogs and other pets including a parrot during her house-call therapy sessions. For example, children use eye-gaze techniques, sign language, and picture pointing on topic boards to give commands to a Papillon while using a toy doctor kit to give the dog a pretend checkup. (3) AAT classes for children with autism at Royal Palm Beach Elementary School combine the gentleness and predictability of canine companionship with AAT-related tasks dovetailing with academic goals specified in the individualized education plan for each student. Materials generated with Boardmaker software let the children tell increasingly detailed stories about the dogs with which they interact. In the summer, children take home vocabulary and symbol cards on leashes and “canine munchies,” cards for reviewing math problems cut in the shape of bones.
Assistive Products Discussed: BOARDMAKER (INTERNATIONAL)
Published by: Closing the Gap, Inc. (Website:http://www.closingthegap.com)