AAC, or Augmentative and Alternative Communication, is any form of communication, besides oral speech, which allows a person to communicate. Here at AASL, we see children using varying AAC devices that enable them to express their wants, needs, preferences, concerns, etc. without being limited to their oral speech capabilities. There are numerous myths that come with AAC, as it is not the “traditional” route of communication, which are easily debunked when explained!
We polled our team of Speech and Occupational Therapists for their most common misconceptions they hear about AAC:
“AAC is only on tablets.” – FALSE, there are several types of AAC! There is a wide variety of different forms of AAC called “Daily Use” AAC, “No Tech” AAC, “Low/Mid Tech” AAC, and “High Tech” AAC. Daily uses of AAC that everyone can use are texts, emails, voicemails, voice-to-text, writing notes, spelling, walkie talkies, etc. “No Tech” AAC are considered to be gestures/signs, eye gazes, body language, etc. “Low/Mid Tech” AAC could be a communication board, an eye gaze board, stand-alone switches, fixed devices, or a Picture Exchange Communication System (P.E.C.S.). “High Tech” AAC could be devices like an iPad, tablet, or Apple Watch with downloaded communication apps that promote basic language and robust language development.
“Only kids use AAC.” – FALSE, everyone uses AAC! AAC devices are not just used for a communication in children, but adults may also use an AAC device for their communication needs. In fact, every person uses “daily use” AAC without realizing it! Facial expressions, gestures, body language, eye gaze, email, text, writing, social media, etc. are considered to be alternative forms of communication. For example, giving someone a “thumbs up” is a form of AAC!
“Only children who are non-verbal use AAC devices.” – FALSE, children with varying levels of speech production abilities are able to use AAC devices! For example, some children may be able to physically produce speech sounds, but it may be mumbled or unclear to their speech therapist. As the speech therapist collaborates with them on clarifying their speech, an AAC device can help them to clearly express basic needs. This eliminates any room for miscommunication between the child and therapist, and others, while they strive to correct the speech sounds.