The Penn State AAC community had the incredible opportunity to host a visit with Dr. Pat Mirenda (April 3rd-9th, 2013). Dr. Mirenda is a life-long advocate for individuals with significant disabilities. She has worked tirelessly as an educator, researcher, and author to maximize participation and ensure a high quality of life for those individuals who have the most complex needs.
Dr. Mirenda met with faculty and students over several days to exchange ideas on the state of the science of AAC and discuss perspectives related to: designing AAC systems, strategies and supports for beginning communicators, issues and considerations specific for individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, literacy intervention with individuals who have complex communication needs, and the unique demands of employment and transition. She shared her insights about promoting social interactions between individuals with autism who use AAC and their peers with the CSD 551 AAC Assessment and Intervention course. In addition, she presented at Colloquium on on her research on developmental trajectories of children with autism (pictured at left).
Doctoral scholar April Yorke described her feelings about getting to talk with and learn from Dr. Mirenda as balanced between “honored” and “grateful.” She expanded, “The AAC field is so vast, with so many unanswered questions. The opportunity for collaboration with and among the brightest minds in the field is truly valuable in moving this research forward.”