Communication can be a challenge for any growing child, but some children need more communication help than others.
Usually, this help comes in the form of AAC.
AAC stands for alternative and augmentative communication.
Augmentative communication refers to anything that adds to someone’s speech.
Alternative communication refers to communication options that are used instead of speech.
Some children need help enhancing their speech and others need an option that altogether allows them to speak.
No matter what kind help they need, AAC devices are an important tool to help your child communicate the way they need to.
At Voz, we offer speech therapy for kids that can help you identify your child’s communication needs and the best AAC options for them.
Let’s take a closer look at how AAC works, and how your child can benefit.
What Is An AAC Device?
An AAC device is anything that aids your child in communication.
There are both high tech and low tech options for AAC.
High tech options for AAC include things like an app on a tablet or a speech generating computer.
If you’re familiar with the late, great astrophysicist Dr. Stephen Hawking, the device he used to communicate was considered a high tech AAC option.
Low tech AAC can include anything like writing, drawing, gestures and facial expressions, and pointing to photos, pictures, or words.
What Are The 2 Types Of AAC?
Generally, there are two kinds of AAC devices.
Devices can be aided or unaided, which refers to how your child uses them.
Let’s take a look at the difference.
1. Aided AAC
Aided AAC refers to AAC that uses tools or materials to help your child communicate.
These can be high tech or low tech.
Aided AAC might look like symbol boards, communication books, keyboards, speech generating computers, and tablets with communication apps.
All these options use either high tech or low tech solutions to help your child communicate.
2. Unaided AAC
Unaided AAC, unlike aided AAC, doesn’t require any tools to help your child communicate.
Unaided AAC includes things like gestures, body language, facial expressions, and even sign language.
Children with communication needs will often use unaided AAC naturally, like gesturing and body language, but they can also work with a speech therapist near me to find out how to use these strategies more effectively.
When Should AAC Devices Be Used?
If your child doesn’t have enough speech output to adequately communicate everything they need or want to communicate, it’s time to consider AAC.
There are a few questions you can ask yourself to evaluate if your child should start learning to use an AAC device:
- Is my child easily frustrated when trying to communicate?
- Does my child struggle to participate in the classroom because of their communication needs?
- Is my child able to interact with my family and their peers, or do their communication needs prevent them from doing so?
- Does my child struggle to independently participate in the daily activities they should be able to do because of their communication needs?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your child might benefit from AAC.
As well, AAC can benefit children diagnosed with:
- Down syndrome
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Cerebral palsy
- A speech sound disorder like childhood apraxia of speech
- Intellectual disabilities
- Pediatric traumatic brain injury
- And others
Book an appointment with Voz Speech Therapy today to find out how.
How Do I Introduce An AAC Device For My Child?
Introducing an AAC device can seem daunting.
Not only does your child have to learn a whole new method of communication, but so do you.
Your child will benefit when the introduction and transition into AAC is smooth and well supported in your home.
Here are some tips for introducing an AAC device to your child.
1. Make Sure You Understand It First
When you understand your child’s AAC device, you’re better able to help them learn to use it and to model good use of their AAC device for them.
It’s important to make sure you understand the device and how it works before introducing it your child.
If you’re working with a speech therapist, consider having them teach you how to use the device confidently before you introduce it to your child.
2. Teach Your Child How Their AAC Works
Modeling is an important part of your child’s learning process with their AAC.
Their speech therapist shouldn’t be the only person who shows them how to use it – it’s important for you to take an active role as well.
For example, when talking to your child, you can select key words in your sentences on their AAC device.
This helps them see the device used in action and learn from what’s being modeled to them.
3. Make Sure Your Child Can Always Access Their AAC
It’s very important that your child can access their AAC device no matter where they are.
If they have a tablet, this might look like a case that they can use to carry their AAC device with them.
This can also look like always having their AAC on a table within reach.
Or, if they are using low tech AAC, this can mean having copies of their picture or word charts at home, at school, and in a travel bag.
4. Create Opportunities For Them To Use Their AAC
It’s important to work communication opportunities into their daily activities to teach your child how to use their AAC device.
This might look like having them use their device to ask for more food at the dinner table or to ask for a turn when playing with their siblings or friends.
It’s important to provide these opportunities and prompt them to use their device so they understand when to use the device and how communicating with their device helps others understand them.
5. Focus On Building Their Core Vocabulary First
While you might be eager to have your child learn as much as possible so they can communicate with ease, it’s important to start small.
The first thing your child should learn is core vocabulary with their AAC device.
This might include words like: yes, no, stop, go, more, all done, on, off, mine, up, down, etc.
Core vocabulary allows them to communicate basic concepts and provides building blocks for them to begin to use more complex language with their AAC device.
Book Your Appointment With Voz Speech Therapy Today
AAC devices are an incredibly important tool to help your child communicate properly and increase their confidence with communication.
But like many interventions when it comes to speech therapy, early intervention is key to getting the best results for your child.
If you’re not sure where to start, we’re here to help.
1331 H St NW Ste 200,
Washington, DC 20005
Voz Speech Therapy is a pediatric bilingual speech therapy clinic in Washington, DC that provides individualized services based on the specific needs of your or your child. Therapy sessions are provided in English or Spanish, depending on your child’s native language. Voz Speech Therapy es una clínica pediátrica bilingüe de terapia del habla en Washington, DC que brinda servicios individualizados según las necesidades específicas de usted o su hijo. Las sesiones de terapia se brindan en inglés o español, según el idioma nativo de su hijo.