Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), An Introduction

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), An Introduction
By Ann Marie Lusquinos, MS CCC-SLP

Has someone suggested that your child may benefit from Augmentative and Alternative Communication, or AAC, but you have no idea what that is or what it means? Here is some basic information that will help you begin to understand exactly what AAC is and what it means for your child.

What is AAC?
Any form of communication other than oral speech to express our wants, needs or ideas such as:
• Gestures
• Facial expressions
• Writing
• Symbols
• Pictures

You might be thinking “I use all of these at some point during the day when I am communicating with another person.” You are correct. We all use these forms of communication. But there is a difference.

What is the difference?
Children with severe speech or language problems (short term or long term difficulties) rely on AAC to supplement their existing speech or speech which is not functional for communication. These children use special augmentative aids such as:
• Low tech picture or symbol communication boards or books
• High tech dynamic electronic systems
• Sign language
If a child does have emerging speech, their speech WILL continue to be used with the appropriate AAC system to enhance their communication. It will never be used to REPLACE functional speech. Using AAC will NEVER prevent a child from using their speech either.

What are the benefits of using AAC?
Every child should have the ability to express their wants and needs, do this with ease, to be understood, and to have their request granted. The benefits of AAC may include:
• Reduced frustration
• Decreased inappropriate behaviors while increasing appropriate behaviors
• Increased feeling of self-worth
• Increased independence
• Increased social skills
• Increased school performance
• Increased receptive and expressive language skills

You may be unsure of how AAC will “fit in” to your child’s life, but there are skilled individuals who can guide you. Discuss an AAC evaluation with your child’s pediatrician. Contact Weber Pediatric Therapy to schedule an AAC evaluation, which we will provide in your home.

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