Intervention Strategies to Support Emerging Communicators with Autism who use AAC


February 12-14, 2019, Pittsburgh, PA


The focus of this 2.5 day seminar will be to provide learners with a theoretical and practical foundation for the use of core vocabulary as it pertains to language and vocabulary development for augmented communicators as well as how to integrate the use of core vocabulary as a primary strategy for targeting communication and language in home and academic settings.  Our guest speaker, Amy Frisbie, MA, CCC-SLP, will present evidenced-based strategies for implementing AAC with emerging communicators who have autism.  In April 2018 the CDC released their latest report related to autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Currently, the prevalence of 8-year old children in the US with a diagnosis of autism is 1 in 59. Given these ever increasing numbers, many AAC specialists are seeing more and more children and young adults with ASD, who would benefit from AAC strategies and systems. The “spectrum” of autism looks different in each person, yet the core challenges remain the same. We will consider how any evidence-based ASD intervention must target these primary deficits related to social communication, including AAC. Topics will include updated diagnostic criteria of ASD, co-morbid diagnoses and their potential impact on communication and strategies for successful implementation of low and high-tech AAC systems. Case studies will help to illustrate the special considerations related to people with both complex communication needs (CCN) and autism.


Bruce Baker, PhD

Deborah Laurent Witkowski, MA, CCC-SLP

Tracy M. Kovach, PhD, CCC-SLP

Russell Cross, BSc (Hons) Psych, MRCSLT

Amy Frisbie, MA, CCC-SLP

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Explain why core vocabulary, not extended vocabulary, should be emphasized in AAC intervention.
  2. Describe the relationship between the use of core vocabulary and normal language development.
  3. Describe the difference between a needs-based communication display and a language-based communication display.
  4. Identify the challenges with using a page-based system in an AAC device.
  5. Discuss the impact of motor automaticity in the successful use of AAC devices.
  6. Identify the two criteria identified by DSM-5 for autism.
  7. Discuss two evidence-based, early intervention models that can be used to improve social attention in preparation for AAC with young children/emerging communicators who have autism.
  8. Identify four communication functions that should be targeted for individuals with autism.
  9. Discuss why Minspeak® systems and core vocabulary are a good fit for individuals with autism.
  10. Identify two key differences between referential and descriptive teaching strategies.
  11. Generate linguistically oriented IEP goals and objectives for students who use AAC.
  12. Discuss strategies that enable students who use AAC to demonstrate learning to demonstrate learning within the components of Bloom’s Taxonomy.


This activity is offered for up to 1.9 CEUs (19.2 hours of instruction). To register for CEUs:
  1. Download, and complete the following forms.
  2. Save the files names: 190214_SCS_Lastname-Firstname
  3. Send both files to
  4. CEU certificate will be sent after submitting the two forms

Note: If any difficulty is encountered in using this form, write to to request an alternative file format.