Wednesday Workshop

Effectively Supporting People to Communicate: Building a Community of Knowledge

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
1 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.


This workshop features an expert network of individuals who use Facilitated Communication (FC) and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), communication facilitators, and researchers who will share the stories and strategies that have led to successful communication. Following a discussion of the history of FC and AAC, the session will address best practices, techniques and strategies in supporting people to communicate, and align this with research and case studies that demonstrate the impact of communication.


The History of AAC
Isabel Cordoba, Ryan Duncanwood
In this session, I would like to discuss the History of AAC. I will show how AAC first began and how and by who it was developed. I will show how AAC has progressed through the years and how it has made a difference in the lives of those of us who depend on it. I will discuss how people with communication disabilities had to communicate or had the lack of communication before the creation of AAC. I will talk about how I communicated prior to having an AAC device. I will have my husband discuss how he communicated as a young boy without an AAC device for the first few years of his life. Also he will discuss the different AAc devices that evolved with him as he grew older.

General Overview of Facilitated Communication Training
Harvey Lavoy and Tracy Thresher, Washington County Mental Health Services; Rita Rubin and Sue Rubin, WAPADH
This presentation will provide participants with a general overview of Facilitated Communication Training (FCT). Topics covered will include: history of FCT, basic elements of the technique, determining candidacy for FCT, independence, review of current research, methods for documenting progress with FCT, and best practice guidelines and training standards. Examples and demonstrations of the use of FCT with both school age individuals and adults will be shared. Two individuals experienced in the use of FCT will co-present along with two Master Trainers.

Supporting Effective Movement for Communication
Pascal Cheng, Marilyn Chadwick
This presentation will discuss the use of facilitated communication (FC) and related strategies to address movement difficulties that affect the use of communication devices by augmentative communication (AAC) users. Teaching techniques, methods of physical positioning, and the use of environmental supports for helping individuals to improve their ability to organize and regulate the necessary movements for effective communication device use will be shared.

Be the Driver of Your Own Communication Training
Marilyn Chadwick; Jenn Seybert; Casey Reutemann
This session will highlight the development of a personal communication program that enables an AAC user to train others about their particular use of a device and their support needs for continued effective access. The development of two products, videos and an electronic book, will be discussed in terms of shifting the power of training from professionals to the communicator. The use of current technology to potentially train a new person at any time will be shared.

Making the Dance Look Easy: Lessons Learned from Highly Skilled Facilitated Communication Trainers
Christy Ashby, Syracuse University; Fernanda Orsati, Syracuse University; EunYoung Jung, Syracuse University; Casey Reutemann, Syracuse University; Chelsea Tracy-Bronson, Syracuse University
The objective of this qualitative research study is to identify qualities, skills, characteristics and competencies of highly effective trainers in the practice of facilitated or supported communication. We are interested in how highly skilled facilitated communication trainers describe their practice, how they approach and carry out their work, and what central characteristics they develop in facilitators that could be taught and used for others developing their skills and capacities, with the aim of increasing access to communication for more individuals who do not demonstrate reliable verbal speech. Key themes include getting communication going, skill-building strategies, building capacity and supportive systems and working toward independence.

“This is not a test”: An Exploration of Message-Passing Skills in Supported Typing
Zachary Rossetti, Boston University; Pascal Cheng; Tracy Thresher; Harvey Lavoy
This presentation shares findings and video excerpts from a qualitative research study that explored the practice sessions of message-passing skills by six individuals who communicate via supported typing. Message-passing refers to conveying unknown information to another person. Findings include detailed descriptions of the ways that individuals “passed messages,” perspectives on whether these skills can be taught to others, and the best ways to do so.


Christine Ashby

Christine Ashby, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Teaching and Leadership Department of the School of Education at Syracuse University and the Director of the Institute on Communication and Institute. Her teaching and research focuses on inclusive education broadly, with specific emphasis on supports for students with labels of autism and other developmental disabilities, facilitated communication, disability studies, and inclusive school reform.

Marilyn Chadwick

Marilyn Chadwick is a Speech/Language Pathologist in private practice in Syracuse, NY. She specializes in using alternative solutions to communication problems and developing total communication systems for a rich life experience.

Pascal Cheng

Pascal Cheng has a M. Ed. and a C.A.S. in Special Education from the University of Vermont. He currently is an educational and communication specialist for HowardCenter Developmental Services in Burlington, Vermont, providing training and consultation for communication and literacy with both adults and children with developmental disabilities.

Isabel Cordoba and Ryan Duncanwoord

Isabel and Ryan Duncanwood have been married for six months. They both use AAC devices to communicate. Ryan has used several different kinds of AAC devices as he’s grown up and Isabel has used the same device for the last seven years. Isabel is an AT Specialist and has learned a lot about different devices.

Darlene Hanson

Darlene has been a speech and language specialist with an expertise in working with individuals with severe communication impairments for 22 years. She is the Director of Communication Services with WAPADH in the Los Angeles area. Her work focuses on bringing alternate modes of communication to those who do not use speech to communicate effectively. Currently, she is focusing on training communication partners to increase the communication.

Darlene received her Masters of Arts from Whittier College, and her Bachelors of Arts from Chapman College, both in Communication Disorders. She is also recognized as a Master Trainer in Facilitated Communication, has participated in the writing of the Standards of Best Practice for Facilitated Communication from Syracuse University, and has co-authored research on authorship for Facilitated Communication.

Harvey Lavoy

Harvey Lavoy is the Director of Communication Training & Resources at Community Developmental Services, a division of Washington County Mental Health Services in Barre, Vermont.

Casey Reutemann

Casey Reutemann is currently a graduate student in the Special/Inclusive Education Program at the Syracuse University School of Education. Her interests include Augmentative and Alternative Communication, supports for inclusive secondary education and transition, self-advocacy and disability life writing.

Zachary Rossetti

Zach Rossetti is an assistant professor of special education in the School of Education at Boston University. He is a former special education teacher and inclusion facilitator from New Hampshire.

Rita Rubin

Rita Rubin, a Master Trainer of Facilitated Communication, has been a trainer/facilitator for over twenty years in Southern California. She has been active in many organizations serving people with disabilities, including thirty years on the board of directors of the Greater Long Beach/San Gabriel Valley (CA) chapter of the Autism Society.

Sue Rubin

In 1982, at age four, Sue was diagnosed with autism and mental retardation. She attended public Special Day Classes until high school. At thirteen she tested at the 2½ year level, which appeared consistent with her many limitations. Sue remains echolalic, obsessive/compulsive, occasionally self-abusive/aggressive. Nonetheless, Sue is a Whittier High School (fully-included) honors graduate (3.98 GPA and 1370 SATs) and a senior at Whittier College (3.59 GPA), on a academic scholarship; carried the 1996 Olympic Torch in Los Angeles; received Cal-TASH’s 1st Annual Mary Falvey Outstanding Young Person Award (1998); has presented at over 100 conferences, workshops, and classes; was the subject of two PBS Life and Times programs; has two articles published in the L.A. Times, two in TASH Connections and one in Disability and Society; was the recipient of ASA’s 1999 Wendy F. Miller Award; was the subject and writer of the 2004 Academy Award-nominated Autism is a World, and was an elected member of TASH’s.National Board of Directors.

Sue is a dedicated advocate for people with disabilities, and works as a facilitated communication consultant. She lives off-campus, with support, and enjoys an active social and cultural life.

Jenn Seybert

Jennifer Paige Seybert recently completed a Master’s degree in Cultural Foundations in Education and earned her CAS (Certification in Advanced Studies) in her field of study in Disability Studies. Jenn has been active in advocacy throughout Pennsylvania and New York as an autism expert for staff at all levels, teachers, family members and people with disabilities.

Tracy Thresher

Tracy Thresher is a man with Autism who lives and works in Barre, Vermont. He is a consultant, advocate, and documentary film star who types and speaks to communicate.

Fernanda Orsati

EunYoung Jung

Chelsea Tracy-Bronson