SCSD Launches Successful First Year of AAC Camp

This summer, the School of Communication Science and Disorders (SCSD) launched its first Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Camp under the direction of Drs. Andrea Barton-Hulsey and Michelle Therrien, and with colleagues from special education and physical therapy, Dr. Kelly Whalon and Dr. Mari Therrien.

AAC is used as an alternative or as a supplement to speech by individuals with disabilities who are unable to communicate effectively with speech. The AAC Camp offered families of children who use AAC, as well as children without disabilities, a place to participate in a summer camp in SCSD’s brand-new Communication Corner.

“We had so much fun – navigating obstacle courses, creating art, reading stories, dancing to music, and just hanging out!” Therrien said. “Our biggest focus was on the participation of children who use AAC – if they weren’t engaged or didn’t seem like they were having fun, we switched things up and tried something new.”

Graduate students in SCSD, who are part of an interdisciplinary personnel preparation training grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education, spent the early part of the summer learning how to best support children who use AAC so that they could serve as camp counselors. This work was done in collaboration with students from FSU and FAMU who study special education, physical therapy, and occupational therapy to plan and implement the camp.

“Participating in the camp enabled me to work collaboratively with various disciplines,” said graduate student Ansley Brown. “This exposure to diverse perspectives has broadened my understanding of AAC and its applications, fostering a more holistic approach to communication support.”

Therrien added, “Students learned to be creative and flexible when things didn’t go as expected and to communicate with each other quickly and effectively to ensure camp ran smoothly.”