Communication is an important skill for interacting with the world and making sure your needs are met.
People accomplish those goals in a variety of ways and what works best will vary between individuals.
It can be frustrating, stressful, or even frightening when someone you love has speech or language difficulties, but spoken language is far from the only way to communicate.
If your child is struggling to develop or maintain language skills, District Speech can help out with speech therapy for kids.
In this article we’re going to talk about augmentative and alternative communication, strategies and how they can be used to help your child.
What Is Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC)?
Augmentative or alternative communication (AAC) can be used to describe a myriad of different non-spoken communication.
Most people use AAC casually all the time when they pass notes or use body language and hand gestures.
AAC is often used to describe a systemized approach that allows an individual with a speech or language problem to communicate.
Some people use AAC for most of their communication, while others use it for support in specific circumstances, and it’s important to remember that almost everyone uses AAC to some degree.
What Types Of AAC Are There?
Whatever your child’s needs are, there are AAC options available for them.
While there are many different types, they are divided into two main categories based on whether or not they are used independently of having a device.
1. Aided AAC
Aided AAC makes use of some kind of device to assist with communication.
There are a wide range of options available for aided AAC, subdivided once again into two main categories, low tech and high tech.
High tech AAC devices make use of a computer to help provide a “voice” and may consist of typing or picking out images.
A low tech system could be as simple as a pen and paper, but could also be something more complex like a board with pictures that can be pointed to for specific needs, or a set of cards with words or images.
2. Unaided AAC
Unaided AAC can be used without anything but the speaker’s own body.
Like with aided systems, unaided AAC can vary quite widely in complexity.
Things as simple as facial expression, gestures, and body language qualify as unaided AAC, but so does a limited or complete sign language vocabulary.
Because it doesn’t require specific equipment, unaided AAC can sometimes be a more accessible option for families trying it for the first time.
The most well known method of unaided AAC is the use of sign language.
Does Your Child Need AAC?
AAC can be a useful way to communicate as either a short or long term solution for individuals with speech or language problems.
It’s a good idea to consider AAC for your child if they’re having difficulty communicating what they want or need to verbally.
Thinking about your child’s frustrations communicating and your own frustrations understanding can also be a helpful indicator for when it’s time to look into AAC.
Some other factors to consider include your child’s ability to:
- Access resources at home, at school, and in the community.
- Interact with family members and peers.
- Access the school curriculum and participate in classroom activities.
- Communicate progress at school to their teachers.
- Navigate day to day situations independently.
If you’re unsure, book an appointment with District Speech.
We can assess your child’s individual needs and aid you in finding the right path for your child.
How To Choose An AAC For Your Child
There are many options for AAC systems depending on your child’s specific needs, strengths, and weaknesses.
Things to consider when picking a type of AAC system include your child’s mobility and motor abilities, as well as their cognitive abilities.
External factors that can influence the type of AAC that works best include the intended type of use, the time frame for which the system will be used, and availability of different devices for aided AAC.
If you have experience with your child using AAC in the past it can be helpful to reflect on what worked well and what was a struggle when picking a new strategy to try.
If you’re unsure of what method to use there’s rarely harm in trying something to see if it works.
Even if you think you know exactly what will work, there’s no way to be sure until you and your child have worked together with the new system and seen its strengths and limitations for your specific circumstances.
Book An Appointment With District Speech
Navigating alternative communication methods with your child can be difficult.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone.
At District Speech we want to support you and your child in finding strategies to communicate as easily and effectively as possible.
Book an appointment today to get your child started on their journey to better communication.
1300 I St NW, #400E,
Washington, DC 20005
1655 Fort Myer Dr Suite 700,
Arlington, VA 22209
District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.