Alternative Augmentative Communication
AAC is Communication.
It is an alternative form of communication to the spoken word. It allows your child access to the world around them, that verbally they were excluded from due to their inability to speak.
It is communication but may not have the same rhythm that “natural” speech has, it is communication none the less with a “back and forth” conversation taking place between the AAC user and his/her communicating counterpart.
Your Speech Therapist may recommend your child use a form of AAC if:
- Your child’s speech is slow to develop
- Your child’s speech is difficult to understand
- Your child’s speech ability is limited or non-existent
Types of AAC
There are two types of AAC; Aided and Unaided. Aided Communication relies on some external support in addition to the users body. Unaided Communication relies solely on non-verbal methods of communication.
Communicate with Everyone.
For most parents (myself included) when you have a child who is non-verbal, you almost instinctively understand what they want without them even trying to communicate in their own way (if they can communicate at all). All well and good that we as parents understand our children’s needs and wants (in as much as we can) but in the outside world, your child’s subtle non-verbal communication may go un-noticed or misunderstood.
It is important that your child can communicate with everyone they meet inside and outside the home. Alternative Augmentative Communication opens the world to your child and who they can communicate with.
For some children AAC is just a means to an end, until they can speak, for others it will be a life long communication tool.
All children/adults, of all skill levels and abilities can learn to use some type of Alternative Augmentative Communication.
It will not inhibit Speech
Alternative Augmentative Communication will not stop your child developing speech (verbal communication); (if they are able to). I noticed with Conor on his first use of LAMP, he was trying to sound out the words simultaneously as the device said the words. Conor is almost 9 years old and has not spoken any words since he was just over 1 year old when he stopped saying Mama and Dada.
The more opportunities and modes of communication available to a child, the better the outcome for the child. AAC if a helper for your child to communicate, it is not always a take-over device. Your child may use the device to help prompt them to speak (if they are physically able to communicate verbally).
It will take time
It will take time to learn how to use the AAC device and build up language skills inherent to it. Do not panic straight off the bat if things seem difficult, it will get easier with time and practice.
For more information on Alternative Augmentative Communication, contact your Speech & Language Therapist.
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