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AAC Speech Therapy

Convenient & Effective Speech Therapy

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What are AAC devices in speech therapy?

AAC, or Augmentative and Alternative Communication, devices are communication tools and systems used in speech therapy to support individuals with communication challenges or disorders. AAC devices are designed to augment or replace spoken language to facilitate effective communication. AAC devices come in various forms, and the selection depends on the individual's needs and abilities. Here are some common types of AAC devices in speech therapy:

  • Communication Boards and Books: Communication boards and books are low-tech AAC options that typically consist of a set of pictures, symbols, or words that the individual can point to or select to communicate their thoughts, needs, or preferences.

  • Speech-Generating Devices (SGDs): SGDs are high-tech AAC devices that use technology to generate spoken language. These devices typically have a screen displaying a grid of symbols, words, or phrases that the individual can select using a touch screen, switch, or eye gaze technology. The device then synthesizes and vocalizes the selected message.

  • Text-to-Speech Apps and Software: Text-to-speech apps and software programs can be installed on tablets, smartphones, or computers. These applications convert typed or written text into spoken language.

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How can a speech therapist implement AAC?

Speech therapists play a crucial role in implementing Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems for individuals with communication challenges. Implementing AAC effectively involves a systematic approach and ongoing support. Here are steps and strategies that speech therapists can use to implement AAC:

  • Assessment and Evaluation: Conduct a comprehensive assessment to understand the individual's communication needs, abilities, and goals. This assessment helps determine the most suitable AAC system, whether low-tech or high-tech, and whether the individual requires a speech-generating device (SGD).

  • Select the Appropriate AAC System: Based on the assessment, work with the individual and their caregivers to choose the most appropriate AAC system. Consider factors such as the individual's cognitive abilities, motor skills, sensory needs, and communication goals.

  • AAC Training and Education: Provide training to the individual, their family members, caregivers, and relevant professionals on how to use the chosen AAC system effectively. Ensure that everyone involved in the individual's care is educated about AAC.

  • Customization: Customize the AAC system to meet the individual's unique needs and preferences. This includes setting up vocabulary, symbols, or pictures that are relevant to the individual's daily life and communication goals.


What are some issues in speech therapy when using AAC?

When using AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) devices in speech therapy, several issues or challenges may arise. These issues can vary depending on the individual's specific needs, communication abilities, and the type of AAC device being used. Here are some common issues encountered in speech therapy when using AAC devices:

  • Access and Motor Skills: Individuals with limited motor skills may have difficulty using high-tech AAC devices with touchscreens or mouse interfaces. This can affect their ability to select symbols or words effectively.

  • Device Breakdowns or Technical Issues: High-tech AAC devices can experience technical issues or malfunctions, which can disrupt communication sessions and frustrate the individual.

  • Vocabulary and Symbol Selection: Selecting appropriate symbols or vocabulary for the AAC device can be challenging, particularly for individuals with complex communication needs. Deciding which words or symbols to include and when to expand the vocabulary can be an ongoing issue.

  • Customization Challenges: Customizing the AAC system to suit the individual's unique communication needs and preferences can be time-consuming and may require ongoing adjustments.


How can parents/caregivers use AAC?

Parental and caregiver support is crucial when an individual is using an AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) device. AAC devices are most effective when there is a consistent and supportive environment that encourages communication. Here are ways parents and caregivers can provide support when a loved one is using an AAC device:

  • Education and Training: Seek training and education on how to use the AAC device effectively. Many speech therapists or AAC specialists offer training sessions for caregivers to learn the ins and outs of the device.

  • Collaboration with Professionals: Work closely with speech-language pathologists (SLPs), therapists, or AAC specialists who are overseeing the AAC implementation. Collaborate on goals, strategies, and progress monitoring.

  • Consistency: Be consistent in using the AAC device in everyday interactions. Encourage all communication partners, including family members, caregivers, and educators, to use the device consistently to support communication.

  • Modeling: Model AAC device use by using it yourself during interactions. Show the individual how to navigate the device, select symbols, and communicate effectively.

  • Encourage Communication: Create opportunities for the individual to use the AAC device to express their needs, thoughts, and feelings. Encourage them to initiate communication using the device.



What are some AAC learning techniques used in speech therapy?

Speech therapists use a variety of AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) learning techniques to help individuals with communication disabilities effectively use their AAC systems. These techniques are designed to facilitate communication development and enhance the individual's ability to express themselves. Here are some commonly used AAC learning techniques in speech therapy:

  • Modeling and Aided Language Stimulation: Speech therapists frequently model communication using the AAC device themselves. They demonstrate how to use the device to communicate by selecting symbols, words, or phrases. This technique helps individuals with communication disabilities learn how to navigate their AAC systems.

  • Core Vocabulary: Speech therapists emphasize the use of core vocabulary, which includes high-frequency words that are essential for everyday communication. Teaching core words helps individuals construct a wide range of messages and express their needs and preferences more effectively.

  • Communication Boards and Visual Supports: Communication boards, charts, or visual supports are used to supplement the AAC device. These aids can provide additional visual cues and support the individual in understanding and using their AAC system.

  • Structured Communication Activities: Speech therapists use structured activities and games to engage individuals in practicing their AAC skills. These activities can make learning fun and motivating while targeting specific goals.

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