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Small Talks with Erin Sheldon, Kelly Fonner, Lance McLemore, & Mo Buti

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This week, the TWT team presents another “Small Talks” episode featuring short conversations with AAC specialists Erin Sheldon, Kelly Fonner, Lance McLemore, and Mo Buti!

Key ideas this episode:

🔑We don’t have to delay language skills while articulation skills catch up

 🔑Try and use fun, memorable stimuli and prompts in therapy, because people talk more about things that are silly, remarkable, and novel.

🔑Ask AAC users to use their vocabulary to talk about and learn curriculum, not just answer basic questions.


Before the Interviews:

  • Rachel talks about her VIP backstage pass to the Disney edition of American Idol
  • Chris discusses how novel experiences create a lot of communication opportunities – It can  be very helpful to talk about novel things.
  • People talk more about things that are silly, remarkable, and/or novel. We need to teach basic words, but also think “is this exciting? is this remarkable?”
  • Thinking about your stimulus – youtube videos, bubble talk.
  • Anything that is interesting and unique is more memorable.
  • Practicing writing a boring sentence repeatedly probably won’t generalize.
  • Find things that are exciting and intrinsically motivating for an AAC user.
  • Listener question – What apps should I use for a 5-year-old child with severe apraxia?
    • We don’t need to call a student or client “the worst case” of anything.
    • We don’t have to delay language skills while articulation skills catch up – AAC can be really valuable in building expressive language.
    • There hasn’t been an AAC assessment by the age of 5. Her therapist could have been thinking about an AAC referral by 2-3 years old.
  • The “obligated to share” challenge 
    • Trying to get the word out about AAC to people who don’t know about AAC already
    • What are the things we need all therapists to know?
    • We want our listeners to share the AAC ideas and/or topics or ideas that need to be shared with others – head to our Facebook group and let us know!

During the Interviews:

Erin Sheldon

  • Discussion of descriptive teaching
  • Make sure to support AAC users access of the curriculum by asking them use their AAC vocabulary to redefine and learn about the curriculum
  • Questions should beyond the typical “show me that”
  • Use the words AAC users have in their vocabulary to talk about the curriculum while he or she is learning it. If you can describe what you are talking about, you are always a google search away from finding something.
  • We don’t have to focus as much on memorization of correct answers
  • “Tell me about” is often better than a “what is” question.
  • Get classmates together to come up with words to describe something with bubble maps
  • Use Venn diagrams to compare and contrast ideas 

Kelly Fonner

  • First Author writing curriculum. 
  • Takes you from the first stage of writing to 2nd grade writing
  • Developmental writing scale
  • Using First Author through telepractice 
  • Its never too late and never too early to start writing
  • Kelly believes every student can be a writer

Lance McLemore

  • Lance uses a keyguard designed for people who are visually impaired. There are tactile markers on the keyguard and that helps him a lot. The tactile markers include raised ones in the middle and along the sides
  • Lance’s vision is OK but he is severely light sensitive and must dim the brightness on the iPad.
  • Lance likes the new high-contrast update to LAMP Words for Life but isn’t going to be using it himself because he would have to learn new motor plans and move all the words from one device to the other
  • How Lance chooses what words to add as buttons on his device vs spelling it out

Mo Buti

  • Created a “volume meter” visual cue to help students regulate their volume
  • Working with a student who was “too loud for school” and used a scale numbered from 0 – 5
  • Can use it to reward good behavior – you were at a “0” today, good job and extra recess!

We want to know what you think! You can connect with us at our Facebook group Talking with Tech, on Twitter, and Instagram (@talkingwithtech)! Also, please subscribe and post a review for us on iTunes – it helps others to find us!


First Author Software by Don Johnson: https://learningtools.donjohnston.com/product/first-author/

Bubble Talk Game: https://www.amazon.com/University-Games-Bubble-Talk-Board/dp/B00A0TRXQU

Interested in earning CEU’s by listening to “Talking With Tech”? Check out our course at bit.ly/twtcorepd.


Hosts: Rachael Madel and Chris Bugaj

Producer: Luke Padgett

Audio Engineer: Michaela Ball

Music: “Ebb and Flow” by Fabian Measures

June 12, 2019

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