Taking notes in a book, using gestures to communicate, or pointing to pictures to express ourselves are forms of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).
AAC includes all forms of communication—other than oral speech—that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. It features the use of customized methods and devices to supplement a person’s ability to communicate, either to “augment” current speech production or as an “alternative” to speech. Therefore, AAC is recommended for children with moderate to severe speech and language delays or disorders.
There are two types of AAC, unaided and aided:
|High-tech||Speech generating devices|
Parents usually ask the following questions when AAC is introduced to their children:
Based on many studies and analyses, we know that AAC doesn’t hinder or delay natural speech development. On the contrary, it may enhance and support speech development. The use of gestures, pictures, and assistive technology boards will improve speech and language.
According to Millar et al (2006), “AAC intervention has significant benefits in the development of communication competencies and language skills; the present best evidence analysis provides data that suggest AAC interventions can also have positive benefits for natural speech production.”
This means AAC doesn’t only provide the child with tools to communicate and express him or herself, but it will also help improve speech, language, and many other developmental aspects like cognitive skills, literacy, social participation, and access to education.
While using AAC with a child, it is important to note that it won’t halt speech development. On the contrary, it will support natural language and speech growth.
To address such fears, these are three key points to be aware of while implementing AAC with your child:
The AAC implementation requires a multidisciplinary team to conduct the assessment and proper intervention. The specialized AAC therapy team should include:
This multidisciplinary team will conduct a formal assessment using quantitative tests to assess the positioning, motor skills, speech and language skills, and accessibility to the different AAC tools. Once the assessment is done, the team starts with intervention sessions to develop the use of the AAC tool and adapt it to the child’s capacities. It is paramount to include the parents, caregivers, and schoolteachers in the therapy plan to guarantee the appropriate use of the AAC tool in daily life.
In conclusion, AAC is highly recommended for children with moderate to severe language and speech delays or disorders. It will provide them with a variety of techniques, tools, systems, and devices to be able to communicate, resulting in a positive impact on the development of their language and speech skills.
High Hopes’ specialized AAC team comprises a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, and a physiotherapist. Our specialized team can conduct formal AAC assessments, elaborate an appropriate therapy plan, and provide proper AAC interventions. Please contact us for further information and clarifications concerning AAC assessments and interventions.