The University of Montana Speech, Language, Hearing, and Occupational Sciences program approached MonTECH about a collaboration in the summer of 2021. A family in Billings, Montana who had a young child with complex health needs had run out of speech therapy benefits through their insurance. UM was going to offer a week-long "evaluation" to the family focused on communication and AAC needs to help direct care while his family continued to pursue Medicaid coverage and asked MonTECH to assist. MonTECH staff in Billings had already met with the family and their future preschool team, so had a ground-level understanding of his strengths and challenges. Over the course of the week, the family met with everyone twice daily, in the morning at MonTECH and in the afternoon at the SLP clinic. Together with SLPs, an OT, an ATP, SLP students, and volunteers from MonTECH, as well as other therapists "zoomed in" as needed, the family received incredible interdisciplinary care. A full write-up, complete with resources for follow-up, was provided to the family and shared with MonTECH and school staff back in Billings. This cross-state collaboration was a great demonstration of quality care that encompassed more than just a medical model.
While it was just one family, the impact of this collaboration has echoed in the last several months. One of the SLP graduate students has signed on as a volunteer with MonTECH and is eager to continue learning about all facets of AT. The SLP department has initiated several trainings by MonTECH for their staff and students on the topic of AT and AAC. The family in Billings continues to reach out to MonTECH for referrals and information for additional resources. They have also requested loans of numerous small and large items to trial with their son in the hopes of getting insurance coverage to purchase permanently. All students involved in the project expressed gratitude at being involved in this kind of collaborative effort so early in their careers.