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  • Writer's pictureBrittany M.

Unlocking communication: The Power of AAC in Everyday Life

As a speech-language pathologist, one of my greatest joys is witnessing the moment a child finds their voice. For some, this journey involves the use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) - a set of tools and strategies that facilitate personal expression beyond traditional speech. In this post, we'll explore the essence of AAC, showcase its diverse forms, and delve into practical ways it can be woven into daily routines to enrich communication.

Understanding AAC: A Gateway to Expression

AAC encompasses a wide range of communication methods that support or replace spoken or written language for individuals facing communication challenges. It's designed to enhance the user's existing communication skills, providing a complementary pathway to express thoughts, needs, desires, and ideas.

5 Examples of AAC

  1. Sign Language: A form of manual communication using hand shapes, movements, and facial expressions to convey words and concepts.

  2. Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS): A form of AAC that uses pictures and symbols to allow nonverbal individuals to communicate by exchanging images with their communication partners.

  3. Speech-Generating Devices (SGDs): Electronic devices that produce spoken words or messages when a user selects symbols, icons, or phrases on a touchscreen or keyboard.

  4. Communication Boards: Boards or books displaying pictures, symbols, or words that an individual can point to for communication.

  5. Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs): Devices that, when activated, produce a pre-recorded or synthesized voice output. These range from simple one-message devices to complex systems allowing for dynamic communication.

Incorporating AAC into Daily Routines

Morning Routine: Start the day by integrating AAC into morning rituals. For instance, a child using PECS can hand over a picture of a toothbrush to indicate it's time for brushing teeth, or use a VOCA to greet family members. This not only fosters independence but also encourages the practice of functional communication from the start of the day

Meal Times: Transform meal times into opportunities for choice-making and social interaction. For example, an individual might use a communication board to select what they'd like to eat or use an SGD to comment on the meal, fostering both decision-making skills and social engagement.

Playtime: Integrating AAC into play encourages social interaction and language development. Children can use AAC to initiate play, choose activities, or negotiate roles within imaginative play, enhancing both communication and social skills.

Bedtime Routines: End the day on a communicative note by incorporating AAC into bedtime routines. Reading a story using an SGD or using sign language to say goodnight can provide a comforting and familiar end to the day, reinforcing the use of AAC in a variety of contexts.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is not just a set of tools or systems; it is a gateway to unlocking the voices of those who face communication challenges. By integrating AAC into daily routines, we create a world of opportunities for individuals to express their needs, share their thoughts, and connect with others on a deeper level. Whether it's through high-tech devices or simple picture boards, each form of AAC brings us one step closer to understanding and empowering those with communication difficulties. As parents, caregivers, and therapists, our role is to support, encourage, and celebrate every attempt at communication, recognizing the profound impact it has on the individual’s confidence, social integration, and overall quality of life.



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