Unlocking the Power of Augmentative and Alternative Communication: A Comprehensive Beginning Guide

 I thought since I have some new followers that I would introduce myself and provide some basic AAC information; since I haven't done so in a while.

I'm Susan Berkowitz, an SLP with 45 years' experience with AAC and significant language learning disorders. I've worked in many different settings; including public and non-public schools, nonprofit agencies, residential settings, and private practice. I've presented at national and international conferences, publiahed in peer-reviewed professional journals, and written a guide book for implementing AAC for parents and professionals (Make the Connection, available on Amazon).

So, let's start at the beginning.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a critical tool for individuals with complex communication needs. Speech pathologists play an importnt role in helping individuals navigate the world of AAC systems to improve their ability to communicate effectively. In this quick guide, we will delve into the basics of AAC, including core words, static display, dynamic display, AAC systems, and robust vocabulary.

The Basics of AAC

AAC encompasses various methods and tools that support individuals with communication challenges. This can include speech-generating devices, communication boards, picture exchange systems (which I personally don't ever use), and more. The goal of AAC is to supplement or replace verbal speech to improve communication and language development.

Core Words

Core words are essential to AAC systems as they are high-frequency words that are versatile and can be used across different contexts. These words form the foundation of communication and support the expression of a wide range of messages. Examples of core words include "want," "more," "help," and "stop."

Static Display vs. Dynamic Display

Static display AAC systems present a fixed set of symbols or words on a communication board or device. These systems require the user to sort through and manually replace pages to access different vocabulary options. In contrast, dynamic display AAC systems present changing sets of symbols or words on the same computerized display, allowing for quicker access to a broader range of vocabulary.

AAC Systems

AAC systems can be unaided (such as gestures or sign language) or aided (such as communication boards or speech-generating devices). Speech pathologists work closely with individuals to assess their communication needs and determine the most suitable AAC system for their unique requirements.

Robust Vocabulary

A robust vocabulary in AAC refers to a comprehensive set of words and symbols that enables individuals to express themselves effectively. It includes core words, fringe vocabulary (less frequently used words), and personalized vocabulary to support individualized communication needs. Speech pathologists play a key role in developing and implementing robust vocabulary systems for their students.

Understanding the basics of AAC is essential for speech pathologists working with individuals who require alternative communication methods. By incorporating core words, exploring static and dynamic display options, selecting appropriate AAC systems, and building robust vocabulary sets, speech pathologists can enable their students to communicate effectively. As communication is a fundamental human right, AAC serves as a valuable tool in ensuring that everyone has a voice. Silence is NOT golden.

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