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Special School District of St. Louis County
 
Giving Students Their Voices
SSD augmentative communication facilitator helps meet unique student needs

As an augmentative communication facilitator with SSD, Lesley McGilligan helps students find their voices.

McGilligan is one of about 5,000 SSD staff members who work daily in a variety of roles to meet the unique needs of students who receive services from the district. She helps staff use alternative communication tools and technology to assist students with limited verbal skills.

A speech-language pathologist by trade, McGilligan started working for SSD in 1996 after graduating from Fontbonne University. She said working with a variety of students who were nonverbal early in her career sparked her interest in augmentative communication.

"Through that I developed a love for it and developed a niche," she said. "I’m very passionate about what I do and I think that I have the best job in the world."

McGilligan is also active in the community as an advocate for individuals with special needs, including serving as co-captain of SSD’s team in the Walk Now for Autism Speaks event. McGilligan recently sat down to answer some questions about her job and herself.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I get to help kids find their voices. I like helping staff implement this technology and helping students demonstrate their knowledge in the classroom. I also get to embed speech-language pathology with technology.

If you could have a special luncheon and invite anyone (past or present), which five people would you want to sit at your table?
Albert Einstein, Temple Grandin, Mark Twain, Jane Austen and Steve Martin. They would make for fascinating conversation, and they’re all people I’ve been inspired by.

What’s your favorite book?
Shel Silverstein’s "A Light in the Attic." I’ve had so much fun reading it and reading it with others. Poetry is smart, fun and silly.

If money and time were no object and you could take an entire year to do whatever you want, what would you do?
Get my Ph.D. in the field of augmentative communication so I could continue to make contributions in the field and go on to teach more at the university level.

What advice do you have for children today? Be who you are and don’t let anyone squelch your creativity or your spirit.
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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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