Misconceptions Regarding Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

By Ann Marie Lusquinos, MS CCC-SLP

Each May, Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) provides an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and role of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologist play in providing life-altering treatment.

In that spirit we are working to raise awareness about Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), which is one specialty provided by these professionals.

In our last blog post, we introduced AAC. This time we’ll touch upon some of the misconceptions related to AAC for children. Some parents and professionals have concerns because they may not understand what AAC means. They also may not be familiar with the benefits of giving a child another means with which to communicate.

Fact vs. Myth

Myth: If my child uses AAC, he will not speak.
Fact: Research findings tell us that the use of AAC does not inhibit the use of natural speech and can help improve natural speech, when a multimodal approach is used.
(Millar, Light, & Schlosser, 2006; Sedey, Rosin, & Miller, 1991).

Myth: Young children are not ready for AAC and will not need AAC until they reach school.
Fact: Research tells us that implementing AAC at an early age can assist in the development of natural speech and language development (Lüke, 2014; Romski et al., 2010; Wright, Kaiser, Reikowsky, & Roberts, 2013).
Fact: Research tells us that implementing AAC can increase vocabulary for children three years and younger (Romski, Sevcik, Barton-Hulsey, & Whitmore, 2015).

Myth: Prerequisite skills such as cause and effect and communication intent are necessary before my child can use AAC. Children with cognitive deficits are not able to learn AAC.
Fact: Research tells us that impaired cognition does not prevent communication. (Kangas & Lloyd, 1988; Zangari & Kangas, 1997).
Fact: Research tells us the use of AAC intervention with children who have complex communication needs has many benefits: (Drager et al., 2010). These include:
• Helps develop functional communication skills
• Promotes cognitive development
• Improves social interaction

References: http://www.asha.org/

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