All Augmentative and Alternative Communication, or AAC, users deserve access to core vocabulary. Core vocabulary makes up 60-80% of our vocabulary; it consists of vocabulary we use most frequently and that can be used across a variety of environments, such as “no,” “go,” or “you.” Sure, it’s also important to have pre-programmed phrases and sentences so the user can participate in activities with their friends and families; however, it’s highly important to have access to vocabulary needed to generate new utterances to express our thoughts and ideas.
What is the Descriptive Teaching Model?
The Descriptive Teaching Model is a well-known and widely recommended model for supporting AAC users and learners. Since programming every single vocabulary word into the user’s AAC would be quite difficult (for you and for the user to learn), the Descriptive Teaching Model focuses on using vocabulary already programmed into the device and focuses on describing concepts.
Using a Descriptive Teaching Model can be effective in supporting the learning of AAC, and in describing what we know about items. It can be especially helpful when we might not know where a certain word is within our language system or we just can’t think of the word (that happens to the best of us!). Examples might include, “squishy, soft, peel, yellow fruit,” “sweet, cold, cone,”
A great way to elicit responses during meal times is for 1) the communication partner to describe food or ingredients needed for baking activity, 2) try using the phrase “tell me about your banana”. You can allow this to be an opportunity to teach and expand language with answers that are provided. Meal times can be a great time to foster social interactions and language opportunities for AAC! Think beyond requesting!
Chloe is a Speech Pathologist who has a variety of experiences working with all ages. She has her Graduate Assistive Technology Certificate from East Carolina University, which allows her to evaluate and help individuals find a device to help them communicate. Chloe is offering virtual AAC consultations at the local and national level for pediatrics to adults with developmental disabilities. She can provide 1:1 training to individuals, their families, and ABA professionals to help integrate communication systems and can help tailor your child’s needs with a system that will help them grow their language skills. Contact Chloe by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule your consultation here.
While summer-time is a great time to get out of the heat by going to the beach or hitting the pool, taking a high-tech device with you can sometimes lead to unexpected events (dead battery; if you're worried about sun, sand, or water damage) - and having access to communication is key! Here are a few links to some low-tech AAC that is easily available.