Augmentative and Alternative Communication, or AAC, describes any way that someone can communicate aside from talking. It helps support functional communication across a variety of contexts and can supplement language regardless of ability level.
AAC can help support a child who…
Whether your child is 1 or 10, it’s NEVER too early or too late to start using Augmentative and Alternative Communication, or AAC. Even older individuals who haven’t had access to a device can still benefit! Your child may benefit from basic low-tech communication systems to help reduce verbal pressure and increase their independence to communicate effectively, or from a language system on a device that helps expand their vocabulary and develop more novel utterances with practice, instruction, and modeling.
Here are a couple of things we hear frequently:
(1) My child can’t do “X”, “Y”, or “Z”, I don’t think they’re ready.
Yes, they are! There are absolutely NO prerequisites to introducing and using AAC, such as age, cognitive skill, motor ability, or linguistic knowledge. There are many different options when it comes to AAC, and a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) can help you find the right one.
(2) AAC will stop verbal speech or delay verbal speech.
Current research does not support this idea of AAC stopping or delaying verbal speech; it shows positive benefits on speech production! Use of AAC increases functional communication skills and language by reducing demand and pressure, such as motor and cognitive demands, during communication opportunities, allowing the AAC user to focus on their language using a variety of communication methods. Most kids benefit from the verbal, visual, and auditory feedback that is provided through use of AAC.
Common AAC Myths:
(1) AAC is a last resort for individuals
AAC should be considered as one of the first tools for speech and language intervention! It is a tool we can use to support a child’s speech and language skills, even if they can talk. AAC can give them access to additional vocabulary that will allow them to communicate more and more over time.
(2) AAC devices are only for children with intact cognition.
Those with complex communication needs, regardless of their age, physical or cognitive abilities and disabilities need and deserve access to their voice. In these situations, earlier intervention with AAC is highly beneficial. Remember, it’s never too early or too late!
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.