We share a lot about our amazing Master’s and Doctoral students, but we have some wonderful undergraduate students, too!
Senior in CSD, Lindsey Kelly, is one student who has found a special interest in AAC. Through her coursework and research experiences at Penn State, she has begun to develop her knowledge and skills in the area of AAC. Lindsey completed the undergraduate course in AAC (CSD 451) last year, and is currently serving as a teaching assistant for the course this Fall. She also works in Dr. Jessica Caron’s lab as a research assistant, working on projects involving literacy and social media for individuals with complex communication needs.
Despite her active participation in the AAC community at Penn State, Lindsey has gone above and beyond the classroom to learn more about individuals with complex communication needs. This summer, Lindsey spent her time volunteering at two camps for individuals who require AAC and was happy to share her experiences with us.
Lindsey’s first experience was through Augmentative Communication and Empowerment Supports, or “ACES,” a program for young adults who use AAC and are transitioning from school to work. The purpose of the program was to help individuals further develop their communication, as well as improve their commuter access skills for future relationships and vocational tasks.
Lindsey’s job was to support the campers in their use of their AAC systems. Throughout her time at the camp, she gained invaluable experience in programming devices and troubleshooting. She shared that there were a lot of high-tech systems that she never worked with before, so it was a great learning experience.
Lindsey then volunteered at Camp InterAACtion, a summer day camp run by speech-language pathologists, for children from ages 5-12 who use AAC. At this camp, campers had the opportunity to build their skills in language and social communication, while also making friends and summer memories. They participated in activities including: communication games, cooking, social groups, arts and crafts, sports, theater, gardening, and more.
Lindsey’s job was to incorporate the campers’ devices into each activity during the camp day. Each day, Lindsay was able to work with a different child, so she got to experience working with children with varying needs, as well as individual communication devices.
When asked, “What did you take away from your experience?” Lindsey shared,
“I learned that I do want to specialize in AAC. Working with these individuals has taught me to be patient—give them the opportunity to talk. Everybody wants to communicate, no matter how hard it might be.”
Lindsey hopes to continue her education in Speech-Language Pathology and to further develop her knowledge in AAC at a graduate program next Fall.
Thanks for sharing your experiences, Lindsey!