For most adults and children, the ability to speak serves as a gateway to communicate and interact with the world. But for many children with autism, speaking is a limited option, or, not an option at all. As a result, these children have to rely on other forms of communication. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is a term used to describe any means of communication, besides traditional speech, that allows individuals to express their thoughts, needs and ideas. Examples of AAC include facial expressions, gestures, symbols, writing and pictures.
The development of AAC devices (e.g., PECs, Dynavox and switches) in recent years has helped many autistic children communicate easier and more effectively than ever before. The interest and usage in AAC devices has grown, and as a result we here at Innovative Speech Language Pathology now meet with many parents asking us if their child can benefit from an AAC device. Here, we discuss this topic in detail.
Many people believe that there is a certain set of prerequisite skills that a child needs to have in order to use an AAC device properly. But according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, current evidence suggests that this is not true. AAC devices vary in what they offer, and many are specifically designed for children who are in the early stages of communication development. For instance, AAC devices with single-meaning pictures do not require reading while AAC devices with alphabet-based systems do require reading and are therefore more suitable for children with a more developed set of communication skills.
Ultimately, each child is unique, just as their needs are. While AAC devices have proven to be effective in helping many children communicate and can even encourage speaking, they vary in what they offer. In many cases, a child can benefit from one type of AAC device more so than another. The key is understanding your child’s current form of communication and needs, and then finding the AAC device that best helps your child develop.
Are you interested in learning more about AAC devices and how they can benefit your child? At Innovative Speech Language Pathology, our team of qualified therapists are well-trained in AAC devices and can discuss your options with you. To speak to a member of our team, please contact Innovative Speech Language Pathology at (310) 659-9511 today.