What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)?
Augmentative and Alternative Communication, or AAC, is a widely used tool to aid in communication, speech and language. AAC includes all of the ways we share our ideas and feelings without talking. We all use forms of AAC every day, including facial expressions, gestures and body language. We may not realize how often we communicate without talking. People with severe speech or language problems may need AAC to help them communicate. Some may use it all of the time. Others may say some words but use AAC for longer sentences or with people they don’t know well. AAC can help in school, at work, and when talking with friends and family.” (ASHA)
What types of Augmentative and Alternative Communication systems are often used?
There are two categories of AAC systems: aided and unaided. Unaided communication systems rely on non-verbal methods to convey messages such as gestures, sign language, facial expressions, body language-basically any form of communication that only uses the body. Aided communication systems require some form of external support in addition to the user’s body like a tool or device. Within aided AAC, there are basic and high-tech tools. Some basic/low tech options include: pen and paper, texting, pointing to letters, words, and pictures symbols. High-tech options include: voice output devices (Dynavox, NovaChats, Accents, etc.), electronic devices, computers, and iPads. Some SGDs (speech-generating devices) can even speak in different languages to help any child with communication.
What are the benefits of Augmentative and Alternative Communication?
There are multiple benefits of using AAC:
- It improves social skills by opening every opportunity to communicate with richer and more frequent interaction.
- AAC can reduce the amount of frustration children often have when they cannot voice their thoughts.
- A child can branch out and have confidence in their communication when they have a speech aid.
- A child can develop their vocabulary and articulation skills through the use of an AAC device.
- AAC improves overall autonomy, decision making and independence.
What signs can determine if AAC is right for my child?
- If your child’s speech is slow to develop
- His/her speech is difficult to understand
- The child is non-verbal
Finding the right device for your child depends on many things including the child’s age, personality, communication skills, physical skills, and cost. In some cases AAC will be a permanent part of a person’s communication system, whereas for others it will be temporary. In all cases it is necessary that an individualized AAC system be developed to meet the child’s needs in all environments. A proper AAC assessment can help determine the best communication system for a person with complex communication needs.
How can Carolina Therapy Connection help?
At Carolina Therapy Connection we offer individualized AAC evaluations and treatment based on each child’s needs. All of our Speech Therapists have received advanced training in Augmentative Communication, and specialize in the ability to recognize what would best excel a child’s communication ability. Carolina Therapy Connection would love to be your resource for all of your speech, language and communication needs!
If you want any additional information about AAC or about our services, here are a few links to help you out! Contact us today to see if a communication device is appropriate for your child.