What is AAC or Augmentative Alternative Communication?
Augmentative and alternative communication or AAC refers to the systems and devices that help people who are still learning to talk, have speech which is difficult to understand or prefer to communicate their messages in other ways. When you think of it, we all use AAC. Every time you make a thumbs-up sign, scribble a note and pass it to someone, or throw a knowing glance across the room without speaking, you engage in a form of AAC.
Augmentative communication involves using systems/devices to supplement verbal speech, such as a small portable amplifier. This can increase speech volume and help those with limited vocal capacity communicate effectively.
Alternative communication uses systems/devices to replace verbal speech. A keyboard text-to-speech program, or even something as simple as a communication board, are tools that enable alternative communication. Users of alternative communication devices may not have the ability to communicate verbally. In short, AAC is anything that helps anyone communicate effectively.
What is an AAC device?
AAC devices come in all shapes and sizes. Some examples include iPads, speech generating devices (SGD), communication boards, and picture books. Communication devices can be accessed through a range of methods including direct access, eye gaze or switching. These devices don’t have to be fancy or high-tech. Anything that either supplements speech or helps people communicate their messages in other ways is a form of AAC.
Who uses AAC devices?
Users of AAC may have limited verbal skills, experience difficulty producing spoken language, or not use any form of verbal communication. People use AAC on either a temporary or long-term basis.
A temporary user could be a person who has experienced a stroke and uses AAC until their speech returns or a child who is still developing their speech skills and needs support to get their messages across in other ways to reduce their frustration and support them to interact with others.
Long-term users could be people with diagnoses such as autism, cerebral palsy, or severe childhood apraxia of speech. They may use AAC for longer periods or their entire lives.
How can we help?
Evolve Therapy Speech Therapists are trained in the prescription and use of AAC devices. We can meet with you and your child and determine if an AAC device may be of assistance. Moreover, we can help if you already have a device and are in need of some help in getting the most out of it.
If you have questions about AAC devices and how they may be of relevance to you and/or your child, please do not hesitate to reach out. Our team are here to help.