Last month was AAC Awareness Month and what better time than now to learn about AAC?
Elle Papalia, a Speech Pathologist at the Autism Association and part of our AAC Team, shares with us some tips and tricks available to help you understand AAC, strategies on how to utilise it, and some handy information! Are you ready?
Firstly… What is AAC?
Everyone has the right to communication and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), makes this possible! AAC includes communication devices, systems, strategies, and tools that replace or support natural speech. These tools support a person who has difficulties communicating using speech and allow them to communicate with the people around them.
So, what exactly does Augmentative Communication and Alternative Communication mean?
- Augmentative Communication is when something is added to your speech to make your message clearer and easier to understand for the listener. For example, sign language, pictures, or a letter board.
- Alternative Communication is when a person is not able to speak or able to understand speech as a form of communication. In this case, a need a different way to communicate is needed.
AAC is described as either:
- Unaided – when the person uses their own body to share messages. For example, facial expressions, body language or key word signs.
- Aided – when the person utilises a tool or piece of equipment to communicate. For example, a picture or device. Aided communication systems include low-technology options like exchanging a picture or pointing to symbols and high-technology options like Speech Generating Device (SGDs) and applications that enable other devices, like phones and tablets, to serve as SGDs.
(Visual Support Chart)
Types of AAC
AAC can come in many different forms, here are just some of them below!
- Facial expressions
- Body language
- Key word signs
- Picture Exchange Communication (PECS)
- Key Word Signs
- Communication Boards
- Communication Books
- Speech Generating Devices
Did you know that you even use forms of AAC each day?
Things like diaries, post it notes, stop signs, menus, thumbs up and more!
What is Multimodal Communication All About?
A person who is a Multimodal Communicator has multiple ways that they communicate their messages. A person with some spoken communication can benefit from AAC. Communication is everyone’s right and AAC gives a person more choice in words and language and supports their right to be able to communicate.
What you might not know about AAC
It can be helpful to know additional tips to help guide you to find the best AAC support for you. Here is a great tip sheet to help you learn more about AAC: 10 Things You May Not Know About AAC. Below are two of our favourite points from the tip sheet that you might find helpful to know:
- People learn AAC best when others use it to talk to them as well. In this way, it is similar to learning a foreign language. We would all learn to speak a new language more easily if our teachers, therapists, friends, and family spoke that language.
- Some people who can speak also need AAC. It may be helpful when they are highly stressed and AAC can help during these times. When they feel better, they can then go back to speech without the help of AAC supports.
Source: Tip Sheet – 10 Things You May Not Know About AAC by Carole Zangari
The Benefits of AAC
A person with Autism might use AAC when their speech doesn’t meet all of their needs. For example, if they haven’t developed speech, their speech is hard to understand, or they don’t have enough speech to engage in their everyday life.
There are many benefits to using AAC, it can help people with complex communication needs to:
- Understand information
- Express themselves (AAC helps facilitate a wider variety of communication functions)
- Communicate in different environments and with different people
- Develop their language skills
Happy AAC Month!
If you would like to find out more about AAC Communication Tips and Strategies YouTube playlist to find a range of tips to support, you with your AAC device.