Augmentative and alternative communication is a great tool to use at any age with the goal of improving communication.
There are multiple styles and types of augmentative and alternative communication that your speech therapist can recommend to you based on their evaluation.
It’s worth noting that augmentative and alternative communication doesn’t cause developmental delays and there is no minimum milestone required to use it.
Instead, it’s a great resource to help support any type of learning disability speech therapy, along with other speech and language issues.
Now, let’s dive in.
What Is Augmentative And Alternative Communication?
Augmentative and alternative communication refers to ways you can communicate without using spoken words.
You can use augmentative and alternative communication at any age if you’re having trouble with your speaking abilities.
Your time using it can also be short-term, or long-term.
Augmentative communication is something that adds to your speech.
Alternative communication is a method used which is an alternative to speech.
There are many different types of augmentative and alternative communication, and you probably use at least a few of them in your day to day life without even thinking about it.
Without using technology, some examples include writing, drawing, gestures, facial expressions, pointing, and sign language.
Some fancier options include using an app on a tablet to communication or using a computer ‘voice’, which is also known as a speech generating device.
Augmentative and alternative communication includes all the tools that you could use to aid your speech.
Types Of AAC
There are two main categories of augmentative and alternative communication: unaided and aided.
Now, let’s dive into the details of each category.
Unaided augmentative and alternative communication does not require an external tool.
This means that it relies on your motor control and can include facial expressions, body language, finger spelling, gestures, manual signs, vocalizations, and verbalizations.
Aided augmentative and alternative communication requires the use of some type of external tool.
This tool can be either electronic or non electronic.
Electronic options can be different features of a computer, tablet, or smart phone.
This can include communication apps, text-to-speech features, and texting.
Non electronic options can include objects, pictures, photographs, visual schedules, and writing.
You might use one, two, or even a blend of multiple types of augmentative and alternative communication options.
Each person’s needs are different, so your Washington DC speech therapist will work with you to decide what makes the most sense.
Who Needs AAC?
If your current method of communication does not meet your communication needs, AAC can help.
This could be if your current method restricts or impairs the quality and quantity of your interactions with others.
Your speech therapist will evaluate your needs and determine if you need augmentative and alternative communication based on the following criteria:
- Augmentative communication is needed to facilitate natural speech
- Alternative communication is needed to replace verbal speech, writing, or expressive language
- Communication is required in order to facilitate more appropriate alternate behaviors
- Temporary or permanent need for augmentative and alternative communication
In particular, the following cases frequently make use of AAC:
- Speech therapy for Down syndrome
- Speech therapy for dysarthria
- Speech therapy for traumatic brain injury recovery
- Speech therapy for selective mutism
- Speech therapy for hearing impaired kids
- Speech therapy for laryngeal cancer
- Speech therapy for nonverbal autism
Does Using AAC Cause Developmental Issues?
This is a very common question.
Using augmentative and alternative communication does not slow down or cause developmental issues.
It’s the opposite.
Using augmentative and alternative communication will stimulate development and continue to help the user improve their language capabilities.
When Should Your Child Start Using AAC?
Another common question is if there is a particular age your child needs to reach before being recommended to use augmentative and alternative communication.
Current research indications that augmentative and alternative communication helps at all ages, even if your child is under three.
There are no particular milestones you need to reach to use augmentative and alternative communication.
Instead, your speech therapist will recommend an appropriate type of augmentative and alternative communication based on their evaluation.
How Can A Speech Therapist Help?
Your speech therapist will help you find the right augmentative and alternative communication option for you.
Remember, they’re tools and so the goal is for your speech therapist to help you find tool that works best for you.
Your speech therapist can also help you to understand which options are covered by insurance, and which are not.
They might also work with other professionals like a physical therapist or an occupational therapist if you have different physical skills that will affect how you access your augmentative and alternative communication.
To do this, your speech therapist will first complete a thorough speech and language assessment in order to evaluate your needs.
- Your current method of communication and its effectiveness
- Your ability to follow commands
- Your ability to respond to yes or no questions
- Your ability to point given an prompt
- Your current method of expressing communicative intent
Then, they will create a program for you that will maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your communication based on this assessment.
With the right augmentative and alternative communication, you should be able to:
- Improve your functional communication
- Improve your social communication
- Improve your speech production and understanding
- Increase your language and literacy skills
Book Your Appointment With District Speech Today
Augmentative and alternative communication tools can help you to improve your ability to express yourself.
Your speech therapist will work with you to find the best match for you.
And remember, there aren’t any milestone requirements if your child needs to use one too.
They’ll stimulate their development and ensure they continue to learn as they grow.
If you or your child needs AAC, we can help.
Book an appointment today to speak with one of our many experienced speech therapists.
1300 I St NW, #400E,
Washington, DC 20005
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.