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Course Description and Learning Outcomes

Whether we like it or not, we (as SLPs) share a lot of “territory” with behaviorally oriented professionals.  While we like to feel like we own the majority of the real estate on Communication Island, the truth is we share it with several other professionals (teachers, neuropsychologists, etc.) including Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs).  Similarly, BCBAs feel that they own the majority of the real estate on Behavior Island, even though several articles we reviewed consider writing functional behavior assessments within our “tool box.”  As we discussed in an earlier episode (see Collaborating with BCBAs) this feeling of “ownership” can be a real show stopper.  This is a big problem when we have students / clients who are complex learners and benefit from structured behavioral interventions and communicate with augmentative alternative communication strategies.   

Using augmentative alternative communication (AAC) within the context of a behavior plan is a clinical issue that should visit both islands.  There are AAC users with complex behavior needs that require the expertise of a BCBA, and there are individuals under the care of a BCBA without functional speech who need an SLP to evaluate and prescribe AAC strategies.  When a situation arises that requires the expertise of both professions it is crucial that we know our roles and responsibilities, where our scope of competence ends, what to do when a communication tool isn’t supported within an environment and / or behavior plan, and how we can effectively collaborate with one another to benefit our client.  Only through effective collaboration can we build bridges between these isolated islands and make treatment more effective for our students and clients. 

Tune in for an hour of commentary and literature review about collaboration specifically related to AAC within the context of behavioral programming.  Learn about scope of competence, roles and responsibilities, and how to meet in the middle at Collaboration Station (get it?)


  1. Identify at least 2 roles and responsibilities when collaborating around AAC within a behavior plan
  2. Identify at least two considerations for modifying a tool or select a different tool for integration into a behavior plan
  3. Identify at least 2 environmental variables that may play a role in tool modification for behavior plan integration

Course Presenters

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

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: Kate is an employee of a public school system and co-founder of 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.

Time Ordered Agenda

10 minutes: Introduction, Disclaimers and Disclosures

20 minutes:  Discussion of the different roles and responsibilities between SLPs and BCBAs

15 minutes:  Discussion about different communication modalities within behavioral programming

10 minutes: Discussion of environmental variables that may impact decisions about AAC and behavioral programming

5 minutes: Summary and Closing

References and Resources

Drumb, L. (2018). Analysis of Collaboration between Board Certified Behavior Analysts and Educators to Address Challenging Behaviors [ProQuest LLC]. In ProQuest LLC.

Brodhead M. T. (2015). Maintaining Professional Relationships in an Interdisciplinary Setting: Strategies for Navigating Nonbehavioral Treatment Recommendations for Individuals with Autism. Behavior analysis in practice, 8(1), 70–78.

Kelly, A., & Tincani, M. (2013). Collaborative training and practice among applied behavior analysts who support individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 48(1), 120–131.

MORGAN, L. (2020). Building Working Relationships With Applied Behavior Analysts: Interprofessional collaboration can help clients become better communicators. ASHA Leader, 25(3), 8–9.

Mitteer, D. R., Randall, K. R., Van Winkle, L. J., & Greer, B. D. (2020). Incorporating discriminative stimuli into functional communication training with augmentative and alternative communication devices: a tutorial. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (Baltimore, Md. : 1985), 1–8.

Andzik, N. R., Cannella-Malone, H. I., & Sigafoos, J. (2016). Practitioner-Implemented Functional Communication Training: A Review of the Literature. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 41(2), 79–89.

Mancil, G. (2006). Functional Communication Training: A Review of the Literature Related to Children with Autism. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 41(3), 213-224. Retrieved May 6, 2020, from

McEvoy, M. A., & Neilsen, S. L. (2001). Using Functional Behavioral Assessment and Functional Communication Training to Assess and Prevent Challenging Behavior. Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 10(1), 6-8. doi:doi:10.1044/aac10.1.6


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!