This course is a podcast episode.

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Course Description & Learning Outcomes

What is harder (and even more rewarding, I might add) than supporting the communication development of tiny humans?  Well, providing early intervention to tiny humans with complex communication needs, of course.  Graduate training certainly doesn’t prepare us for everything and most SLP’s get minimal to no didactic or clinical exposure to early intervention OR supporting complex communicators, making this mash-up a true head scratcher for many of us.  I had the pleasure of joining Kate and Amy this week to geek out on augmentative alternative communication (AAC) and try my best to demystify some of the barriers that SLP’s in the early intervention setting encounter when trying their darndest to serve complex communicators and their families.  Tune in for some validation, some practical advice, and hopefully some reassurance as you navigate this complicated territory, given minimal resources across the board.  We’ll chat about coaching, teaming, and joy, and offer some myth-busting insights to help you stop chasing those “unicorns” that often result in delayed introduction of AAC tools and strategies to children under the age of three years.  Hang in there EI SLP-you got this, and your Nerds have your back!

Learn more about Tanna here.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify at least two barriers to augmentative alternative communication (AAC) implementation in an early intervention setting

  2. Identify at least 5 strategies to overcome barriers to AAC implementation in an early intervention setting

  3. Identify at least 2 resources for expanding scope of competence in AAC for early intervention clinicians

Course Accommodations

The transcript for this course is provided below. You can also email us at

Click here to read the transcript.

Course Presenters

Tanna Neufeld, MS, CCC-SLP

Tannalynn Neufeld is a licensed, ASHA certified SLP with over 15 years in the field working with children who communicate with complex communicators and their families. In addition to her faculty role at the University of Washington, Tanna has presented on AAC and other topics related to complex communication nationwide via professional and parent development workshops and webinars. She is the founder, director, and president of AACcessible Foundation and a leading contributor of editorials and learning content for Clinically, Tanna has extensive experience supporting the youngest and most emerging communicators and is trained in early intervention techniques that support children and families, such as DIR/Floortime and Hanan programs. In her private work as a consultant with Seattle AAC, Tanna provides donation-based and pro-bono, tele-AAC evaluations and coaching programs to support access to AAC technology and services for all. She has developed comprehensive training programs to support improved pre and post-service education in the field of AAC for SLP professionals and has a personal passion to see the barriers that remain for AAC access lowered. In addition to professional education provision, Tanna mentors several graduate and practicing SLP professionals through AACcessible and as a member of the ASHA. S.T.E.P. Program. She is a member of ASHA SIG 1, 11, and 12 and served as President of the Northwest Augmentative Communication Society (NWACS) from 2015-2020.

SLP/BCBA; SLP Kate Grandbois (she/her) & Amy Wonkka (she/her

Kate and Amy are co-founders of SLP Nerdcast. Kate is a dually certified SLP / BCBA who works primarily as an "AAC Specialist." She owns a private practice with a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration, augmentative alternative communication intervention and assessment, and consultation. Amy is an SLP who also works as an "AAC Specialist" in a public school setting. Amy's primary interests are AAC, typical language development, motor speech, phonology, data collection, collaboration, coaching, and communication partner training and support.

Speaker Disclosures

Tanna Neufeld financial disclosures: Tanna receives a salary from the University of Washington, and receives donations for consultation services, mentoring services, course offerings, and products on A portion of these donations is used to subsidize overhead costs for an organization which she founded and directs. Tanna receives honorariums for speaking at conferences and workshops in the Seattle Community. She is a paid advisor and consultant for Goally, an assistive technology company. She is also a seller on Teachers Pay Teachers and Boom Learning, for which she receives funds for her products.Tanna Neufeld non-financial disclosures: Tanna is a member of ASHA and ASHA SIG 1, 11, and 12.  She is president on the board of AACcessible Foundation and a volunteer, contributing editor for SLP Nerdcast.  

Kate Grandbois financial disclosures: Kate is the owner / founder of Grandbois Therapy + Consulting, LLC and co-founder of SLP Nerdcast.  Kate Grandbois non-financial disclosures: Kate is a member of ASHA, SIG 12, and serves on the AAC Advisory Group for Massachusetts Advocates for Children. She is also a member of the Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis and Therapy (BABAT), MassABA, the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) and the corresponding Speech Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis SIG. 

Amy Wonkka financial disclosures: Amy is an employee of a public school system and co-founder for SLP Nerdcast. Amy Wonkka non-financial disclosures: Amy is a member of ASHA, SIG 12, and serves on the AAC Advisory Group for Massachusetts Advocates for Children.

Course Disclosure - Financial and In-Kind

Funding for this course was provided by one of our Corporate SponsorsMedtravelers.   

Time Ordered Agenda

15 minutes: Introduction, Disclaimers and Disclosures

25 minutes:  Descriptions of barriers to AAC implementation in an early intervention setting

15 minutes:  Descriptions of strategies to overcome barriers to AAC implementation in an early intervention setting   

10 minutes:  Descriptions of resources for expanding scope of competence in AAC for early intervention clinicians

5 minutes: Summary and Closing

References & Resources

Light, J., & Mcnaughton, D. (2015). Designing AAC Research and Intervention to Improve Outcomes for Individuals with Complex Communication Needs. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 31(2), 85-96. doi:10.3109/07434618.2015.1036458

During this episode a stack of literature was references on

You can access that stack here.

Online Resources

AAC Early Starts Conference:

AAC Early Starts Call for Papers:

Perkins School for the Blind:

DIR / Floortime:

The Hanen Center:


The contents of this episode are not meant to replace clinical advice.  SLP Nerdcast, its hosts and guests do not represent or endorse specific products or procedures mentioned during our episodes unless otherwise stated.  We are NOT PhDs, but we do research our material.  We do our best to provide a thorough review and fair representation of each topic that we tackle.  That being said, it is always likely that there is an article we’ve missed, or another perspective that isn’t shared.  If you have something to add to the conversation, please email us! We'd love to hear from you!

Summary Written by Tanna Neufeld, MS, CCC-SLP, Contributing Editor

Audio File Editing provided by Caitlin Akier, MA, CCC-SLP/L, Contributing Editor

Promotional Contribution provided by Paige Biglin, MS, CCC-SLP, Contributing Editor 

Web Editing provided by Sinead Rogazzo, MS, CCC-SLP, Contributing Editor

A big THANK YOU to our Corporate Sponsor, Medtravelers for the financial support to make this course possible!

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