Assistive Technology Network

Augmentative and alternative communication

My daughter learned, from experience with well-intentioned professionals and us as her parents, that AAC is how we tell her what to say when we want her to say it. Touch the X. Say that. Show me this. It took YEARS to undo the damage of these practices and persuade her that AAC could be how she expressed what SHE wanted to say when SHE wanted to say it.

It wasn't until we modeled a core word vocabulary across the day, echoing back to her what she was telling us (You are telling me to STOP. You are saying you're FINISHED. I can see you LIKE that!) that she began to believe that AAC could be HER voice, not mine.

Erin, Mom to Maggie with Angelman Syndrome, CVI and more, age 10
AAC User

Common Myths about AAC

Myth: The primary goal of communication is to express wants and needs.
For most people, in most situations, expressing needs and wants is secondary to social expression.
Myth: Students who are nonverbal don’t have communication needs. If they don’t talk, they don’t need speech!
Everyone has the need to communicate. Students who are nonverbal may communicate through facial expressions, gestures, eye gaze, or sounds.
Myth: They’ll never learn to talk if they use AAC.
Current research indicates that AAC actually supports the emergence of speech. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is communication.
Myth: AAC is Expensive!
AAC is often low cost.
Myth: Each child only needs one device.
Multiple devices allow for flexible communication in a variety of situations and environments.
Myth: Only the SLP is responsible for communication.
Designing and implementing communication systems takes a team!