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Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

Communication & Assistive Technology

Image by Adrian Swancar

AAC therapy is designed to support individuals who have difficulty with verbal communication by providing alternative methods to convey their thoughts, needs, and desires. The therapy begins with a comprehensive assessment by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) to determine the most appropriate AAC systems and strategies based on the individual's specific needs and abilities.

AAC systems can be divided into two main categories:

Unaided Systems:

These do not require any tools or devices and include methods like gestures, sign language, and facial expressions.

Aided Systems:

These involve the use of tools or devices, which can range from low-tech options like picture boards and communication books to high-tech solutions such as speech-generating devices (SGDs) and AAC apps on tablets and smartphones.

During AAC therapy sessions, the SLP focuses on several key areas:

Selection and Customization:

Identifying the most suitable AAC system for the individual, which may involve customizing devices or creating personalized communication boards tailored to their preferences and needs.

Training and Practice:

Teaching the individual how to use the chosen AAC system effectively. This includes instruction on navigating devices, using symbols and pictures to communicate, and combining various methods to convey more complex messages.

Communication Strategies:

Developing and practicing strategies to facilitate effective communication in different settings, such as home, school, work, and social environments. This may include role-playing scenarios and interactive activities.

Integration and Support:

Working with family members, caregivers, teachers, and other professionals to ensure consistent use of the AAC system across all aspects of the individual’s life. The SLP provides ongoing support and training to these individuals to help them assist the AAC user effectively.

Monitoring and Adjustments:

Regularly assessing the effectiveness of the AAC system and making necessary adjustments to improve communication outcomes as the individual’s needs and abilities evolve.

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Cindy Knighton MS SLP-CCC

As the founder of Speech for Success, LLC, Cindy brings a wealth of experience to her role as a speech-language pathologist.

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