What is Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC)

Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC), a form of Assistive Technology, encompasses any approach designed to support, enhance or augment communication for people who cannot independently communicate by speech in all situations.  It includes any communication technique other than speech, such as facial expressions, gestures, sign language, eye gaze, pictures, initial-letter cuing, computerized devices.

Who uses AAC?  Children who:

  • are at risk for developing speech (e.g. children who lack oral-motor imitation, have sucking/swallowing  problems, retain primitive oral reflex patterns, severe mental retardation, autism, severe motor speech disorders)
  • are at risk for losing speech (e.g. children with progressive neurological disorders such as myotonic dystrophy or a progressive hearing loss)
  • don’t presently have adequate speech (e.g. children with a significant receptive/expressive language gap or unintelligible speech)

Benefits of AAC:

  • Increased vocalizations, verbalizations, and articulation; comprehension; interpersonal interactions; creative use of language; attention span; self-esteem
  • Decreased disruptive and aggressive behavior; self-stimulation; frustration

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