The benefits of an immersive Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Camp experience for Rehabilitation Medicine students

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  • Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) camps provide opportunities for children who use AAC, and their families, to build communication skills in a short-term intensive format. Students in graduate rehabilitation medicine programs are often utilized as counsellors at these camps, but research is lacking on benefits for student counsellors. The present study examined the benefits of participating in a hands-on clinical experience at AAC Camp Alberta for speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy students enrolled in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta. Nineteen student counsellors completed surveys indexing knowledge, skills, and attitudes in the area of AAC four weeks before and one week after camp. Post-camp, students reported having increased their knowledge of AAC devices and communication repair strategies, and skills for troubleshooting devices and communicating messages to individuals who use AAC. Students also reported feeling more confident after camp, in their ability to encourage communication by individuals who use AAC and provide them with the same quality of service as other clients. Implications of the potential for hands-on clinical experiences to reduce knowledge, skill, and attitude barriers for students who may later work in the area of AAC are discussed in light of speech-language pathology graduation, licensing, and certification requirements.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International