About CommuniK-9


“Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success…” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The philosophy of this practice concentrates upon utilizing a transactional approach that individually determines “the best practice” for each client based upon his or her personal needs. The family and caregivers are considered integral in the development and the child’s probability of progressive success. As such, all aspects of intervention are designed to incorporate the family dynamics as the most consistent and reinforcing aspect of the client’s life. Sue believes strongly in the Collaborative Problem Solving approach (Ross Greene, M.D.) based on the logical intervention belief that if the child could they would. Combined with the SCERTS model (Barry Prizant & colleagues) she utilizes a framework for the ‘fit’ of the treatment approach with the ‘culture and lifestyle’ of an individual family. Sue works closely with parents, teachers, other service providers, and caregivers’ to assist the client’s development during incidental opportunities and structured functional activities. Sue’s approach involves completing an initial intake of each client’s preferences and strengths for developing the most beneficial, cohesive, and reinforcing assessment for guiding her individualized treatment plan. All intervention incorporates using a total communication approach, the principles of applied behavioral analysis, techniques of sensory integration, collaborative problem solving, verbal behavior approach and activities of floor time and play therapy.

“Man masters nature not by force but by understanding” Jacob Bronowski

CommuniK-9, Inc. incorporates the social-communicative challenges of the individual within a framework of an interdisciplinary Team. Working closely with all members of the Team is believed primary in facilitating mutual understanding and expectations for each individual being served. Maintaining positive and consistent relationships with Team members and school system professionals is challenging for parents as annual staff and classroom changes occur while Special Education laws and guidelines are modified. Sue is available to assist families in this process as a consultant and serve as an adjunct member of the Team. Advocacy and support are of utmost importance for a client and their family throughout the learning and educational and transition to young adulthood process. Keeping abreast of current philosophies and special education laws within the public and private school contexts are ongoing. Knowing available programs, having relationships with school systems, maintaining educational contacts, cultivating a broad referral list, and providing related references deemed critical in the intervention process.

“Applaud someone else’s win as much as you would your own” Donna Farg


Animal Assisted Therapy

The origin of the business name, CommuniK-9, Inc. evolved over the past several years. The original Speech-Language Pathology practice, Sue Drouin, M.S. CCC-SLP, expanded to include Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT).This training presented the use of registered therapy pets, Lily the dog and Opal the cat, to be included within treatment sessions as deemed appropriate for the client. Sue was featured in the ASHA Leader, (2/7/06, Vol.11 No.2) a publication that is the professional, scientific, and credentialing association for speech-language pathologists and audiologists in the United States. Click the article to read Pets Help Teach in Speech-Pathology Sessions.To access an article that fully that describes Sue’s pet assisted therapy and provides an example of a communication board she incorporates into the session, click here for Talking- or- Being With the Animals: A Natural Part of AAC Solutions an article found in Closing the Gap magazine (Assistive Technology Resources for Children and Adults with Special Needs). For additional information about the training and requirements for Animal Assisted Therapy, or information about Animal Assisted Activities and the literacy program Dog Gone Reading, refer to www.doggonevisiting.com. To learn the difference between service and therapy animals, please read Defining Therapy and Service Animals also found in Closing the Gap magazine.

“Through eye contact and body language, humans and dogs can understand each other almost perfectly.” Author Unknown

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Sue draws on a wealth of knowledge and experience of various assistive technologies. Use of high, mid and low technology tools are developed through all aspects of the student’s intervention and training for all members of the Team is considered necessary. Sue works with each client to provide him or her a ‘voice’ and alternative strategies for those children who require interventions that are more intensive to effectively communicate. Sue has knowledge of and experience programming augmentative communication devices for all level users.

She is able to take the process from performing an Augmentative Communication and Assistive Technology evaluation, consulting with home and the school Team, identifying possible device trials, directing device trials, and completing the necessary paper work for purchase of the most appropriate device. Once the device is in hand, Sue can design and create an individualized configuration of custom pages based upon the student’s current performance level in the assessment and educational record. Vocabulary and messages generated are based upon interviews and completion of checklists and forms with family and school staff. Sue inputs all pages and provides custom templates for additional vocabulary and pages to be easily updated by caregivers or staff.


“It is important to recognize that behind every success story, there lies a journey in which commitment, hard work, and humor paved the way.” Institute of Disability, University of New Hampshire

Literacy Skills

The language literacy relationship involves co-existence of verbal and written skills required for successful reading acquisition. For those individuals where expressive language is compromised, modifications and strategies are necessary for them to succeed in obtaining literacy skills. Sue incorporates her knowledge base using a variety of treatment models to design each individualized program. She well-versed incorporating multiple tools within current reading curriculums to modify programming as appropriate for students who are non-speaking, have Specific Language Impairments, or require assistive technology. Sue has multiple technology programs for designing her materials, using them within treatment sessions and sharing them with families and involving educational Teams. Sue employs a variety of reading-writing software and assistive technology tools to enhance student comprehension and expression within the literacy development process. She can also make software and curriculum modification recommendations specific to the student’s needs.

“Effective educators believe that they have the power to be the charismatic adult in a student’s life, and they actively seek opportunities to do so.” Robert Brooks


Sue is an enthusiastic learner who is committed to staying abreast of all current approaches and state of the art techniques available. She actively participates in the continuing education process and her efforts have resulted in receiving awards for doing so. Sue has focused most specifically upon maintaining her expertise in the areas of autism spectrum disorder, literacy development, augmentative/alternative technologies, learning disabilities, emotional regulation, and mood disorders. Sue has recently attended the following professional development workshops and activities:

  • Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.)
  • Behavorial Interventions for Childhood Emotional and Behavorial Disorders/ Lynn Clark
  • An Insider’s Perspective on Autism & Asperger’s Syndrome/ Deborah Lipsky
  • Language and Literacy for Students with Disabilities/Carol Westby
  • Matching Oral Motor Interventions with Oral Motor Disability/ Linda Hanrahan
  • The Paradox of Dyslexic Processing/ Regina Richards
  • Learners with Word Finding Difficultie/ Diane German
  • Literacy in Augmentative Communication/ Karen Erickson
  • Vision and Reading/Sheila Gaudreau
  • Augmentative Communication in Inclusive Education/ Steven Calculator
  • The Roots of Literacy Play and Language/ Carol Westby
  • Enhancing Phonological & Metaphonological Skills of Children with Highly Unintelligible Speech / Barbara Hodson
  • Practical Therapy Techniques for Apraxia & Dysarthria/ Pamela Marshalla
  • Current Best Strategies to Help SLP Support Literacy /Sarah Clark
  • Written Expression: The Final Frontier/ Melissa Farall
  • Visual Immersion Program/ Howard Shane
  • ASD Symposium/ Pat Mirenda
  • Animals Make Us Human/ Temple Grandin
  • Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display(PODD)/ Linda Burkhart
  • Selective Mutism/ Joleen Fernald
  • Verbal Approach to Teaching Language/ Mary Barbera
  • Assistive Technology and Transition /Therese Willkomm
  • Universally Designed Technology to Support Reading, Writing, & Communication in the General Curriculum/ Therese Willkomm

“To teach is to learn twice.” Joseph Joubert


On May 6th, 2011 Sue will be presenting iLearn for Unique and Diverse Learners through the Seacoast Professional Development Center in Exeter, NH. Click here for more information and to register for this hands-on workshop.

Scene Speak a visual scene display app for the iPad recently included one of Sue’s communication boards in their Features section of their web site. Scene speak is one of the most functional and easy to use apps with voice output. It is highly recommended and one of Sue’s absolute favorite apps for communication, learning and sharing.

On April 8th, 2011 Sue presented at the Educating the 21st Century Learner conference sponsored by NH Local Education Support Center Network. See her Blog to download her handout from this informative session.

“Tell me a fact and I will learn. Tell me a truth and I will believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” Indian Proverb


Sue has a standard therapy contract that specifies services, terms of agreement, frequency of treatment, consultation, and fees. This contract is provided at the time of referral and is then reviewed with each client prior to the initiation of services. She contracts privately with families as well as school districts. Sue is an In-Network provider for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, MVP Health Care, Anthem BCBS, Aetna, and Cigna. Sue does not directly bill private insurance companies, nor does she accept New Hampshire or Massachusetts Medicaid. Sue provides a monthly invoice and requires payment within 60 days of billing. Sue can produce a monthly ‘insurance ready’ bill to be submitted by families or contracting personnel for reimbursement.

“What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?” George Eliot


*Sue is a practicing Speech–Language Pathologist who is certified and licensed in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. She is a member of the New Hampshire and Massachusetts Speech-Language Hearing Associations (NHSLHA, MASHA) and an active member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). Within ASHA, Sue participates in the Special Interest Division for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, and has twice received the Award for Continuing Education (ACE). Since 1985, Sue has provided direct treatments, evaluations, and consultative services in private and public schools, as well as intensive home based therapy services in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Sue enjoys time with her family, gardening, crafts, and her pets—dogs Lily, Surprise, Mercury and cats, Special, Willo and Truffle.