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Strategies to Support Using AAC in Daily Routines

Augmentative Alternative Communication Device

So, you are a caregiver, teacher, or friend of a new AAC user! First of all, what is AAC? AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. It often comes in the form of a speech generating device (SGD)—  an electronic device with a system of pictures and words that someone who has trouble with oral speech can use to communicate with anyone! If you interact regularly with someone who is an AAC user, it’s important to view yourself as part of the team helping them to grow in their communication abilities! A speech language pathologist and primary caregiver are responsible for setting up the system and setting the goals for the AAC user, but YOU have an important role as well! See 3 tips below on how to embrace that role.

1. Keep the device with the student at all times!

This device is the students voice and we should treat it as such. Don’t put it in a closet, in a back pack, or in a cubby. The constant exposure will help the student learn, learn, learn! If the student is using the device at inappropriate times, talk to them about manners and expectations in the classroom just like you would any other student but do not take the device away!

2. Stay updated on their goals.

Ask the caregiver and SLP what the student is working on. They may have a word or phrase they are working on. The more opportunities they have to practice, the more independent they will be. If you are aware of the goals, you can think of ways to incorporate them into what you’re doing with them in your classroom or play.

3. Communicate on their device with them!

Once you know their goals, get comfortable supporting those goals by communicating with them using their pictures/device. This is called modeling and will help the student see their device being used and help them build their language skills. Ask the SLP or caregiver to show you how to use the device so you feel comfortable.

Don’t hesitate to get involved and get to know the AAC user and how they communicate! Remember this is their voice and we want to encourage them to communicate with everyone!

 

– Leigh Beth Shafer, Speech-Language Pathologist