AAC Beyond Requests: Unlocking a Variety of Communication Functions


AAC Beyond Requests: Unlocking Diverse Communication Functions in School

Too frequently, I observe students in educational settings utilizing AAC solely for making appeals, overlooking other communication functions. Some individuals are hindered in effectively expressing themselves due to the restricted vocabulary at their disposal. Conversely, certain teams appear to be fixated on requesting, lacking a clear pathway for progress.

AAC serves purposes beyond requests

teaching aac users to use AAC for more than making requests
SLPs understand the variety of communicative purposes and message types achievable based on vocabulary, skill level, and motivation. However, school-based SLPs may lack the frequency of student contact needed to develop these language skills. They rely on educators, support staff, and parents, who often lack AAC implementation training, to consistently demonstrate commenting, protesting, greetings, and other skills.

During IEP meetings, I aim to enhance the range of communication functions students consistently utilize.

Janice Light (1988, 1997) outlines four primary motives for communication:

conveying desires and requirements (often this aspect is well-addressed),

fostering interpersonal connections with others,

sharing information (often the sole other role in classrooms), and

completing social etiquette protocols.

Students use communication to show liking, select, ask for things, express, share, seek information or attention.

They may tell stories, show independence, and share emotions with language. In classrooms, they often mainly ask and answer questions regarding the curriculum.

Methods to broaden communication function variety involve introducing thematic topics and discussion initiators, as well as incorporating interactive and captivating tasks.

Themed modules offer sustained focus on a particular subject for an extended period, encouraging vocabulary mastery within the context of the student's AAC system, fostering language development in areas like description, comparison, and conversation.

Bringing conversational themes into the classroom can boost motivation, encouraging students to go beyond simple responses and engage more willingly. By aligning language objectives with student interests, a diverse range of topics can be covered.

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