Renee Starowicz

Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education (UC- Berkeley, San Francisco State University)

Background: I have worked with youth who have complex communication needs in a number of settings including respite care, after-school programming, a charter school, summer community based programming and for three years at a group home for adolescents. I became increasingly interested in the communication access and supports for teens as many Autistic youth seemed to have little reliable communication systems and could both recognize and utilize alphabetic symbols when provided the opportunity. I continued to study this avenue of research through my master’s program in the Cultural Foundations of Education with a focus in Disability Studies at Syracuse University.

Current Interests: I am particularly interested what access and use of AAC means for adolescent youth in interaction. I have recently began to examine issues of language development and the emergence of identity as it relates to issues of self-determination and/or citizenship (I am working to regain a better footing amongst these frameworks) towards a broader conceptualization that takes a Disability Studies lens. Basically how can the literature better conceptualize AAC supports and think through interaction as we acknowledge the ways that all communication is interdependent and complex needs requires a shifting away from typical narratives of the independence and self-determination.

Sample Presentation/Publication: Soto, G., & Starowicz, R. (2016) “Narrative Development and Aided Communication.” In Martine M. Smith & J. Murray (Eds.), The Silent Partner?: Language, Interaction and Aided Communication (pp. 141-158). Surrey, UK: J &R Press.

This is a recent chapter publication that I worked on with my advisor thinking through the existing literature on narrative development and AAC use. I aim to take some of this as a foreground to more specific examinations of the content and stances of AAC users that emerges through narratives.

Presentation Topic: Identity in Interaction: AAC and Adolescence

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