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Assistive Technology Consultant
Mishelle Rudzinski, MA, CCC-SLP, formerly served as a speech-language pathologist and AT consultant for UCP Chicago. She spends about half of her time as an augmentative communication specialist for a rural school district in the state of Washington. There are approximately 20 children on her caseload (ages 3-12), most of whom benefit from augmentative communication.
Children on her caseload include youths with autism spectrum disorders, dyspraxia (a motor planning disorder), cerebral palsy, developmental disabilities, Menkes' syndrome and Apert's syndrome.
One of the projects Ms. Rudzinski is involved in with the Washington school district includes assisting children in the use of augmentative communication devices. There are many types of devices; low tech, high tech, static displays, dynamic displays, devices that use photos, symbols or words. There is software for the computer and apps for tabletd and phones. One child with Apert's syndrome is now using a device with four levels - each with eight pictures - during activities such as circle, table time, games and songs.
Ms. Rudzinski also helps a fully included 11-year-old learn to use special communication software on a laptop computer. She sets up low-tech communication boards for a nonverbal 8-year-old boy to use in his special-education class, and she teaches several children how to write using pictures on Intellikeys.
Much of Ms. Rudzinski's consulting work is through her private practice. Approximately every six weeks, Ms. Rudzinski travels to Chicago to consult and present workshops on assistive technology at United Cerebral Palsy. The main workshop she conducts is called Voices and Choices, a hands-on overview of a variety of assistive technologies. She also delivers the Voices and Choices workshop at different locations throughout Illinois, and she visits schools to consult school staff about students who could benefit from AT.
While in Chicago recently, Ms. Rudzinski visited two suburban school districts to consult with educators on children who use assistive technology to help them communicate and access the classroom curriculum. She helped several teams of educators integrate Intellikeys into their curriculum for students who are unable to write. She also helped a team set up and use a high tech communication device for a 5-year-old girl with cerebral palsy. Ms. Rudzinski also adapts computer games in the school's computer lab for a girl who uses a switch to access the computer.
When in Chicago, Ms. Rudzinski often visits Anixter Center, a special school that helps children with special needs to use assistive technology. She assists the teacher of an assistive technology classroom, helping to set up communication boards, adapt computer programs and assess children for AT use.
Ms. Rudzinski earned her master's degree in communication disorders and sciences (speech-language pathology) from University of Oregon. She has a certificate of clinical competence from the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) www.asha.org, which is earned after a nine-month clinical fellowship. (See section on Speech-language pathologist.) She also has licenses to practice in each state she works in, including Washington and Illinois.