Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) emphasize using highly motivating targets for communication, especially when initially introducing Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). We can’t expect your little one to communicate for something they don’t want or don’t like. Using highly motivating targets can help lead to early success during therapy and in the home environment. However, implementing AAC at home can be very overwhelming; using highly motivating targets can be easier said than done! What even is a good highly motivating target for your child? What might resonate with one family might not with another and the way each family implements AAC in the home may look very different. So, what are some ways we can use highly motivating targets to encourage communication at home?
Sometimes families voice that they don’t understand why their child doesn’t want to or won’t use their AAC system. Some children may be more receptive to using their AAC when prompted, whereas others may throw their device due to “feeling pressure” when prompted. For both examples, it can be best to allow for natural opportunities for communication without the added pressure of “use your device!”. Instead, try modeling and talking using their AAC system without expectation for them to use their AAC system to initiate or respond. You can “encourage” opportunities to build authentic communication using their AAC system by getting their “buy-in” without prompting during activities such as:
Here are a couple more tips on encouraging your child’s AAC attempts:
Chloe is a Speech Pathologist at Picky Eaters Online 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.