Matching students to augmentative and alternative communication: A survey of trends and a case study
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In two studies, this dissertation sought evidence regarding occupational therapists’ (OTs’) use of assessment tools to match students to assistive technology (AT) and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) in schools, and to examine if the MATCH-ACES can help an educational team select an AAC for a student with special needs. In the first study, OTs were surveyed nationwide to collect information about their use of assessment tools and their roles in the assessment process for AT and AAC. The second study was a case study that used the MATCH-ACES to select an AAC for a student. This study tracked the student’s IEP goals and identified contributions to goal improvement. Additionally, this study examined the student’s general education teacher’s level of satisfaction with the chosen AAC intervention. Three conclusions related to OT emerged from this research. The first conclusion is that the MATCH-ACES was an effective tool to use when evaluating a student for AAC, and for choosing an AAC that satisfied the teacher’s requirements. Building on these findings, future use of the MATCH-ACES should be considered in the field of occupational therapy and explored through further research. The second conclusion is that education and training in AT assessments may build OTs’ comfort level and confidence using such assessment tools, making them more willing to use their expertise to guide AT assessments. This has the potential to increase OTs’ presence in the AT assessment process. The third conclusion is that a student’s use of AAC requires team involvement, including general education teachers, related services, and personal assistance/aide support. Additionally, training for all staff involved with the student is important to support the student’s use of AAC. Increasing support and training can have positive effects on students’ use of AAC and help them improve their IEP goals. Future research should continue to address ways that OTs contribute to AT assessment and intervention for students with AT needs in schools.