October is Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Awareness month! AAC is any form of communication, other than oral speech, that helps an individual with speech or language difficulties communicate their wants, needs, desires, thoughts, and ideas. Here are 5 things to know about AAC.
- AAC includes, but is not limited to, gestures, facial expressions, written messages, sign language, pictures/visuals, picture exchange systems, and speech-generating devices.
- AAC is for everyone! Anyone with communication difficulties, whether they are significant or mild, may benefit from AAC. There is no minimum age requirement for the introduction of AAC and there are no prerequisite cognitive, motor, or language skills required to use AAC.
- A speech-language pathologist can help in identifying an AAC system that is appropriate for an individual given their current communication strengths and difficulties. A speech-language pathologist can also help train AAC users, as well as family members, caregivers, and other communication partners, on how to use the AAC system selected.
- An individual can use multiple forms of AAC, or modes of communication, at the same time. This is called “multimodal communication”.
- Most importantly, AAC does not inhibit the development of verbal communication or reduce use of verbal communication in individuals with some verbal communication. Even individuals with verbal communication may benefit from AAC!