Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a system of communication used to replace and/or support natural speech. AAC helps those with speech, language and communication difficulties.

  • Augmentative communication supports or adds to the natural speech and makes it clearer e.g. sign language, visuals etc.
  • Alternative communication is used if speech is not very clear and is difficult to understand. 

How does it work?

AAC is of two types: aided and unaided. Aided AAC provides external support to natural speech. It generates speech through various means such as keyboards, symbol boards, cards, books, apps, speech generators etc. While unaided AAC includes non-soken natural communication gestures. It includes expressions, gestures, body language, sign language etc. Unaided AAC requires good motor control and help from another person who can interpret the message intended. 

AAC can be text based i.e. a person types what is to be said or symbol based i.e. someone who cannot read or spell uses symbols and pictures to communicate.

Benefits of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

Communicating without speech is difficult. People who can not speak at all or have difficulty in speaking properly are unable to effectively express themselves which can be confusing and frustrating. Use of AAC can prove to be beneficial in this case. It can lead to:

  • Improved social interactions 
  • Increased autonomy
  • Increased participation in their communities 
  • Improved mental health
  • Better academic performance

AAC with a Speech-Language Pathologist 

An SLP will evaluate how well your child can speak and understand others and can help find the right AAC system for you. For temporary difficulties an SLP might suggest a basic AAC system and may need it for only a short time. For more permanent speech-language pr communication difficulties a more high-tech system might be introduced by your SLP.
Choosing AAC is a critical process that involves the ongoing consideration of multiple factors and the help of a professional SLP. If you are worried about choosing the right AAC system for your child please do get in touch with our skilled speech-language pathologists.

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