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Putting the ABA in AAC Systems: Creating Effective Augmentative Alternative Communication Systems for Individuals with Intellectual Disability

Presenter: Dr. Julie Koudys

Download Course Syllabus

BACB Continuing Education Units
This course issues 6.0 units Type II BACB® CE Credit with no additional cost.

Course description
There has been a proliferation of augmentative alternative communication (AAC) systems, particularly tablet-based speech generating (SGD) devices, in recent years. These systems offer exciting opportunities to create socially acceptable modalities of communication (i.e., using an iPad) which are increasingly affordable, and provide several benefits in terms of increased efficiency and vocabulary expansion. Although research evidence supports the use of AAC systems with individuals with intellectual disabilities, the most effective ways to develop, teach, and maintain these systems overtime (and who should be involved in these processes) remains in question. For this reason, attempts have been made to define evidence-based approaches to AAC intervention (e.g., “integration of best and current research evidence with clinical/educational expertise and relevant stakeholder perspectives, in order to facilitate decisions about assessment and intervention that are deemed effective and efficient for a given direct stakeholder”; Schlosser, 2004). Further, there is an increasing number of research reviews which attempt to identify the most effective instructional approaches. Perhaps not surprisingly, the approaches with the most support are drawn from ABA, including discrete trial training, milieu teaching and functional communication training (Rispoli et al., 2010). Based on these results it has been recommended that AAC intervention for people with intellectual disability combine appropriate AAC modality selection with instructional strategies drawn from ABA (Sigafoos et al., 2016).

Learning objectives

  • Define communication as described in the broader AAC literature and identify similarities and differences between these definitions and Skinner’s definition of verbal behaviour.
  • Describe standards of evidence-based practice generally and define current approaches to evidence-based augmentative/alternative communication (AAC) training for people with intellectual disabilities (ID).
  • Identify effective ABA instructional strategies for use in AAC training, and describe the supporting literature.
  • Describe ways that ABA should be integrated into instructional strategy selection of AAC training
  • Describe ways that ABA should be integrated into monitoring and evaluation of AAC instruction and implementation.
  • Describe ways in which single case research design can be used in clinical practice to guide treatment decision-making related to the selection of AAC modality and instructional strategies.
  • Describe the most common reasons for AAC system abandonment and identify ABA strategies to prevent/address abandonment.

    Participants will meet the objectives listed above through a combination of: video presentation and quiz.

    This online course will be offered year-round, and you can enroll anytime.

    Once you are enrolled in the course, you will have access to your account for 30 days. To attain your certificate you MUST complete all course requirements within this time.


    Cost: $199.00CAD
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    Paying by cheque? Please download the registration form.

    Speaker Biography
    Julie KoudysJulie Koudys, Ph.D., C.Psych., BCBA-D is an Assistant Professor, and Clinical Coordinator, at Brock University in the Department of Applied Disability Studies. She completed her Ph. D. in Clinical Developmental Psychology at York University, with a focus on research and practice with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Her clinical experience includes work in educational and residential services, children’s mental health, and hospital settings (e.g., McMaster Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario). She is the former Clinical Director of Pyramid Educational Consultants of Canada. She has completed research related to the active ingredients in Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) and the long-term outcomes of youth who previously received IBI, as well as the impact of treatment fidelity and instructional strategies on the communicative behaviour of children with ASD who use augmentative / alternative communication (AAC) systems. She is currently conducting applied research involving in-home behavioural parent training to treat sleep challenges and problem behaviour. Dr. Koudys is an appointed member of the Government of Ontario’s Clinical Expert Committee for ASD. She was Chair of the Ontario Scientific Expert Taskforce for the Treatment of ASD, for which she received the 2017 Research Award from the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis (ONTABA). She is an active contributor to various volunteer committees for which she received the 2018 President’s Service Excellence Award from ONTABA.

    Target Audience
    Behaviour Analysts, Educators, Pediatric Professionals and Autism Professionals

    Completion Policy
    All course materials must be viewed electronically through unless otherwise instructed. If you are a BCBA and would like to receive credit for this course, you must achieve a grade of 80% (8/10) on the quiz. You have unlimited attempts to complete the quiz. Non-BCBAs who would like to receive a Certificate of Participation must also achieve 80% (8/10) on the quiz.

    Enrolment Policy
    Once participants enroll themselves in the course they are granted access to all of the course materials for 30 days. You have 30 days to complete this course. You need to complete all of the graded course elements including the quiz within those 30 days. After 30 days you will automatically be un-enrolled from the course.

    Refund Policy
    Refunds will be honoured within 7 days of purchase, as long as the enrolment key is not used, and the course is not begun. Beyond the 7 day period, refunds will no longer be processed, even if the enrolment key is not used.

    Technical Assistance

    If you need technical assistance at any time during the course or to report a problem with e-learning you can send us an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .