Model, Encourage, Respond (MODELER), built on the shoulders of giants

About ten years ago or so, I had a conversation with Patty Cassidy and Dale Gardner-Fox, instructors in my Master’s degree in Assistive Technology at Simmmons College in Boston, where they shared that they were giving a presentation with Nancy Hogan about aided language stimulation. If I remember it correctly, they were really quite enthused about the practices they were teaching about and were talking with participants after asking if they were familiar with the topic. Little did they know that they were talking to Carole Goosens’. They laughed about how they were embarrassed, but they really shouldn’t have. They were spreading the message of a good practice and I’m sure that expert who invented the term they were speaking on was thrilled.

We need to stand on the shoulder’s of giants. During my Ph.D. program I had the very good fortune to study under Dr. Hoi Suen. His Introduction to Educational Research course is tremendous. One of the many incredible lessons was that you can triangulate to build a good rationale for your research work. This has always stayed with me. It also fits very well with what I heard from Pat Mirenda’s recent talk at TASH, which reminded of not only the importance of research based practice, but also of practice based research. Dr. Suen told us that research evidence is certainly an important way to build a rationale, but that both clinical knowledge or expert opinion and theory are important sources as well. When you triangulate the three, you can express very strong rationale’s for an argument or in my case, an AAC intervention practice.

So during the wild ride of co-creating Proloquo2Go, I was starting to dig into the line of research that would end up lighting a tremendous fire within me, pushing me to seek out the research, theory, and expert/ clinical opinion of the practice of aided language stimulation. I completed a comprehensive review of the literature (currently in-press), explored theory of language acquisition, and both connected with top AAC experts, and began conducting my own systematic line of research in the area. As it takes quite a bit of time from research to publication, the studies are going to start coming out this year. I’m thrilled to stand on the shoulders of giants and share this work. While I too feel a bit sheepish, probably similar to how Dale, Patty, and Nancy felt, I will step forward and share my work in this area. Even better yet, now I can say I will share my team’s work in this area, for now I am directing others learning to do research and extending the method. I am so glad to have chosen to pursue developing a general strategy, for it allows for much easier systematic refinement. If you’re interested in reading the first study, here it is:

Sennott, S. C., & Mason, L. H. (2015). AAC Modeling With the iPad During Shared Storybook Reading Pilot Study. Communication Disorders Quarterly.