Sunday, October 2, 2016

3 Ways for AAC Users to Get their Game Face On

Speech-language pathologists are known to often play games in their therapy practice.  There is some debate about the effectiveness of  games in intervention, but generally speaking, if you can combine best practices with fun and engaging format, why not go for it?

But then the hapless SLP suddenly gets an AAC user on his/her caseload.  Many SLPs are unprepared for AAC users.  Augmentative - Alternative Communication is not a required course for getting a degree or license.  Most schools do not offer such a course, and there are simply not enough qualified professors in this area to fill all of the positions that such a requirement would create.

So, what's a clinician to do?  Don't panic!  Just keep on doing what you have ben doing.  Simply change the mode of response.  
If, for example, you have a group of 4 students, all working on building vocabulary for describing and defining, and one of them is an early AAC user who knows basic verbs and nouns, but not many describing words, it's No Problem!  
Use the same activities you're already using.  But instead of trying to retrieve the words needed from memory, your AAC user needs to retrieve them from his AAC system.

1. What can we describe? Anything.  Take a look around the group.  Can the students describe each other?  Start off easily with shirt colors and designs.  
2.  Once you have some descriptions, start to compare and contrast them.  I have a red t-shirt.  Bobby has a blue t-shirt.  They are different colors.  That is one way they are different.  They both have short sleeves.  That's one way they are the same.
How can your AAC user participate?  Find the "describing words" folder or page in his AAC system. You'll find red and blue, and you should also find size words; like big and small, long and short, stripes and dots.
3.  Turn it into an "I Spy" type of game.  "I see something that is red, that is made from fabric, that you wear. What is it?"

Looking for a more formalized activity; one that provides you to with specific questions to ask and a variety of types of responses?  Try my "Define, Describe, Contrast" resource.  There are 10 different scenes, each with 2 versions.  Students can describe a single scene, or compare and contrast two similar scenes.
There are multiple opportunities to expand descriptive language, whether you are simply looking to build up single adjective use, or want a student to expand sentences with rich descriptive vocabulary.

Some scenes have "silly" elements and I try to see if students can tell me why they are silly or out of place.  I also use the pictures as starting points for stories.  The resource has several graphic organizers and visual cues to use.

Have fun with your AAC users and, as always, Keep on Talking. 


  1. Great ideas for therapy, thanks!!!

    1. You're welcome. We're always looking for new ideas! Thanks for reading.