Recently, we hosted a Power Hour on AAC & Literacy After Epilepsy Surgery with Dr. Stephanie Spadorcia.

You can watch the webinar or read the transcript (Word | PDF) (which includes comments from the chat and many links). You can also view the PowerPoint slides and the handouts referenced throughout the presentation.

Even if your child is not an AAC user, Dr. Spadorcia’s strategies regarding reading, communication, instructional methods, IEP goals, and assessments will be helpful for any parent or school team helping a child learn to read.

About Stephanie Spadorcia:

Dr. Spadorcia is the Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Education, Associate Professor of Literacy and Special Education, and Director of the Teacher Residency Programs at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Dr. Spadorcia teaches courses in assessment, instructional methods for reading and writing, technology integration, and literacy instruction for children with disabilities. She has worked with teachers on literacy and assessment initiatives in schools in New England and across the country. You can reach her at Literacy and Disabilities Stephanie Spadorcia Consulting or

Dr. Stephanie Spadorcia

What we discussed:

  • What are literacy and communication?
  • What is the difference between AT (assistive technology) and AAC (augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)?
  • What is the emergent literacy model?
  • What should reading instruction include?
  • Is there dedicated instructional time in your child’s day, every day, for reading, writing, listening, and communicating?
  • Are there IEP goals that address all four of these areas?
  • Is AAC use interwoven throughout the day in all four of these areas?
  • How do you teach a nonverbal or minimally verbal child to read?
  • What about assessment or measuring progress?

Key points

Essential components of daily literacy instruction:

  1. Word work
  2. Comprehension
  3. Writing
  4. Independent reading time

Dr. Spadorcia recommended 90-120 minutes of literacy instruction PER DAY in a child’s schedule that includes these 4 components. These minutes can be spread throughout the day.

Suggested assessment tools:

Resources shared by Dr. Spadorcia:

Additional AAC resources:

This session was held on April 28, 2022 and all referenced materials are in this Google Drive folder (recording, slides, notes, articles, etc.)

See The (Almost) Everything List for more resources!

About the author

Audrey Vernick is the Director of Patient and Family Advocacy for The Brain Recovery Project. She is the parent of a child who had hemispherectomy for seizures caused by stroke. Ms. Vernick holds a level 2 certification in Special Education Advocacy Training from the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates and is certified by The ARC in future planning. She represents The Brain Recovery Project in the Rare Epilepsy Network‘s Adult Transition Taskforce and serves on the Youth Advisory Council for HOBSCOTCH (HOme Based Self-management and COgnitive Training CHanges lives), a behavioral program designed to address memory and attention problems for people who have epilepsy.