by Margaret Edwards, MA, MEd, CCC-SLP (Speech-Language Pathologist); NWACS Contributor
While the ultimate goal for therapeutic intervention is to make our students effective communicators, the goals for AAC users may look more diverse. This is because unlike verbal students, there are many other considerations such as which device to use, access method, and training communication partners to use the AAC system. In thinking about goal writing, the SLP should consider the communication level of the AAC user (emergent, context-dependent, independent) along with the competencies that the user displays.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) defines the five AAC competencies as:
Once you are familiar with the AAC competencies, it becomes important to address each area when writing goals for AAC users. One area is not more important than another, and in order to create balanced intervention, each area should be considered either formally or informally.
There are resources available to help support writing goals around each of these competencies. The PrAACtical website holds a wealth of information around many topics in AAC, including goal writing. In addition, ScoopIt (a new resource to me) includes several resources focused on writing AAC goals.
I’d like to share a few goals that I have written around the competencies and welcome feedback regarding how they compare to goals you are writing. When I write goals, I like them to be measurable (of course), yet written in their simplest form. This is because I often have teachers that are collecting daily data and when the goal is easy to read, they have an easier time knowing what to look for and assessing the accuracy of the student’s performance.
Before you write goals around the competencies, you might want to use the Augmentative and Alternative Communication Profile: A Continuum of Learning (LinguiSystems/Pro-Ed) to assess a student’s level in each of the competencies (with the exception of Psychosocial).
A previous NWACS blog post by NWACS Board member Cassandra Stafford, MS, CCC-SLP/L, ATP provides additional information about writing AAC goals as they relate to the competencies. This is a great read and I highly recommend you click on the link and find out more about the essentials of AAC competencies.
Finally, please comment below on the goals you are writing for our AAC users. While I have worked with AAC users for many years, I feel like goal writing remains a challenge. There are many areas to cover. How many goals are you writing for one IEP? Do you focus on only one competency or do you try to cover all five within one IEP?
Check out the NWACS Pinterest page for AAC Goals for links to more resources and information. Have a link we should add? Share it in comments below!