2022 HELIX Virtual Experience: High Expectations for Students with Low Incidence Disabilities

29. Promoting Communication and Peer Relationships for Students Learning to Use AAC

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Session Dates

Wednesday November 16, 2022 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM - Webinar


Positive peer relationships are important for all children and youth, including students with disabilities who have complex communication needs who are learning to use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) such as speech-generating devices. Yet, many questions arise for teachers or service providers working with students with complex communication needs. What role do adults have in promoting students’ communication and engagement with peers? Can adults do anything to support the development of stronger peer relationships? Is it reasonable to strive for mutual friendships, or will peer relationships always look more like “helper” relationships for students with significant disabilities? Are there ways to better integrate AAC in peer interactions? Can interventions involving peers help students build communication and language skills? This session will answer all of these questions and more by sharing tips and implementation steps that come from our team’s multi-year research project focused on enhancing social communication, engagement, and peer relationships for elementary-aged students and their peers. Attendees can expect to come away from the session with practical guidance and tools to implement peer network interventions as a way to help their students grow their communication skills while forming positive relationships and friendships with their peers without disabilities.

Participants will be able to:

  • Discuss factors acting as barriers or facilitators for students learning to use AAC to engage, interact, and build relationships with their peers without disabilities.
  • Collaborate with other educational team members to develop and implement peer network interventions to promote social communication and peer relationships for students learning to use AAC.
  • Measure and evaluate the impact of intervention programs designed to promote interaction, engagement, and relationships with peers without disabilities.


Target Audience

Teachers, administrators, speech language pathologists, related service providers, consultants, training and consulting staff, paraprofessionals, family members Reasonable efforts will be made to accommodate individuals who have special needs as addressed by the Americans with Disabilities Act and who need assistance at this event. Contact: Annette Bauerlein, at 610-878-7211, or abauerlein@pattan.net.

Event Info

Event Type:


Credit Type:

Act 48 Clock Hour
Hours of Instructional Time
No credit


Elizabeth Biggs Ph.D.

Event Contact:

Content Contact:

Kristin Starosta