What is AAC Communication?
AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication.
Many individuals of all ages use AAC due to expressive communication disorders.
AAC can either be temporary or permanent and can come in all different types and sizes (ASHA, 2018).
In this blog, we will explore common myths about AAC and discuss how AAC promoted the growth of verbal language.
Common Myths about AAC:
Introducing AAC will reduce an individual’s motivation to improve natural speech and will hinder language development (including the development of social communication skills).
AAC should be introduced only after the ability to use natural speech has been completely ruled out.
- The use of AAC does not affect motivation to use natural speech and can, in fact, help improve natural speech when therapy focuses simultaneously on natural speech development and use of AAC in a multimodal approach (Millar, Light, & Schlosser, 2006; Sedey, Rosin, & Miller, 1991).
- Intervention for minimally verbal school-age children with ASD that included the use of a Speech Generating Device (SGD) increased spontaneous output and use of novel utterances compared with the same interventions that did not include the use of an SGD (Kasari et al., 2014).
- AAC can help decrease the frequency of challenging behaviors that may arise from frustration or communication breakdowns (Carr & Durand, 1985; Drager, Light, & McNaughton, 2010; Mirenda, 1997; Robinson & Owens, 1995).
Young children are not ready for AAC and will not require AAC until they reach school age.
- Early implementation of AAC can aid in the development of natural speech and language (Lüke, 2014; Romski et al., 2010; Wright, Kaiser, Reikowsky, & Roberts, 2013) and can increase vocabulary for children ages 3 years and younger (Romski, Sevcik, Barton-Hulsey, & Whitmore, 2015).
- AAC use with preschool-age children has been associated with increased use of multi-symbol utterances and development of grammar (Binger & Light, 2007; L. Harris, Doyle, & Haff, 1996; see Romski et al.  for a review).
- AAC use can lead to increases in receptive vocabulary in young children (Brady, 2000; Drager et al., 2006).
Facts about AAC and Verbal Speech:
- AAC reduces frustration for individuals with complex communication needs by providing a way for communication while they work to develop verbal speech.
- If someone has the ability to produce verbal speech, AAC does not interfere with that ability. Using AAC actually supports verbal speech by providing a consistent auditory and visual model and reducing the anxiety of coordinating the oral-motor movements required to speak. Once the “pressure is off,” it often helps the individuals relax and focus on their message rather than the coordination of the movements to produce the correct sounds.
- AAC speech therapy allows a child to develop language and to communicate. If that child does not speak verbally, he/she still has a voice. (Heidi LoStracco, MS,CCC-SLP, 2015)
About the Author
Ellen Seder is the Marketing and Intensive Program Manager at NAPA Center, Los Angeles.
Ellen always knew she would work in Marketing but never imagined getting to help kids along the way.
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