All About AAC
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) refers to any means of communication, other than traditional verbal speech, that allows individuals to effectively use language. Some common methods of AAC include picture exchange systems, gestures, sign language, speech-output devices, or iPad/tablet applications. Having these various formats for AAC makes using this communication method much more accessible.
Many people (falsely) believe that using AAC devices with nonspeaking or minimally verbal children will prevent them from ever speaking. However, countless studies have actually reported the opposite. Research shows that AAC can increase verbalizations and support language development. Additionally, using these devices allows individuals to independently communicate their wants and needs, which lessens the likelihood of frustration or tantrums. This is especially important as it helps young children build trusting relationships with their parents, families, peers, and adults, and gives them the means to fully participate in social interactions.
Who can benefit?
People of all ages with a variety of difficulties, conditions, disorders, disabilities, or diseases, including, but certainly not limited to:
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Angelman Syndrome
- Fragile X Syndrome
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Cerebral Palsy
Barker, R. M., Akaba, S., Brady, N. C., & Thiemann-Bourque, K. (2013). Support for AAC use in preschool, and growth in language skills, for young children with developmental disabilities. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 29(4), 334-346.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). The promise of assistive technology to enhance activity and work participation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK453284/