In this episode of the Speech and Language Kids Podcast, speech-language pathologist Carrie Clark gives you an in-depth look at how, when, and why AAC is used with a child.
What is Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC)?
AAC is the term used to describe any form of communication that a person can use that is not speech. This may include pointing to pictures of what the person wants, using sign language, or using a device that will speak a message when a specific button is pushed.
When Should AAC be Considered for a Child?
AAC should be considered for any child when his/her speech output is not adequate to communicate everything that the child wants/needs to communicate.
Things to consider:
- Child’s frustration levels
- Adult frustration levels
- Access to school curriculum
- Participation in classroom activities
- Ability to demonstrate knowledge to teachers
- Access to home and community environment
- Ability to interact appropriately with family and peers
- Independence in developmentally-appropriate daily activities
What Prerequisite Skills Does a Child Need Before Trying AAC?
In short, there are no skills that a child MUST have before AAC can be tried. Though, here are a few of the common misconceptions about this:
These are commonly used as excuses why AAC devices should not be attempted with children but these are WRONG:
- The child must understand cause and effect (AAC teaches cause and effect quite effectively)
- The child must understand that a picture represents an object (again, AAC teaches this)
- Child must have good enough motor skills for AAC (there are lots of alternatives for children who can’t access a device with their hands)
- Child must understand enough language for AAC use (babies don’t have great language before they are introduced to speech)
- Child must be interested in communicating (even inappropriate behaviors can be shaped into intentional communication)
For more information about these “prerequisites”, click the link: http://www.speechandlanguagekids.com/what-are-the-prerequisites-for-using-an-aac-device-augmentativealternative-communication/
Options for AAC devices, methods, and systems
- Gestures/Body Language
- Sign Language
- Object Symbols (objects glued to cards)
- Picture Boards
- Picture Exchange
- Written Messages (paper or typed)
- Single Button Voice-Output Devices
- Multi-Button Voice-Output Devices
- Dynamic-Display Voice-Output Devices
Download the free PDF cheat sheet of the different types of AAC here:
How to Introduce the System:
Make it as natural as possible. Think of it as similar to how you would encourage a late talker to talk.
- Get Familiar with the Child’s System
- Model AAC Use Around the Child
- Encourage the Child When he Attempts to Use it and Provide Differential Reinforcement
- Have the Device Present at All Times
- Set Up Opportunities for the Child to Use the AAC Device (in the classroom, at home, in speech, etc.)
- Train Other Adults on How to Set Up Opportunities and Provide Differential Reinforcement
For more info on getting started, click the link: http://www.speechandlanguagekids.com/help-child-use-aac-home-classroom-hint-easier-think/