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  • Writer's pictureBrianna Calvin

Augmentative & Alternative Communication

When Should AAC Be Implemented For A Child?

AAC should be considered for any child when his/her speech output is not adequate to communicate everything that the child wants/needs to communicate.

Things to consider: ● Child’s frustration levels ● Adult frustration levels ● Access to school curriculum ● Participation in daily routines/activities ● Ability to demonstrate knowledge to adults/ caregivers ● Access to home and community environments ● Ability to interact appropriately with family and peers ● Independence in developmentally appropriate daily activities

What Prerequisite Skills Does a Child Need Before Trying AAC?

In short, there are no skills that a child MUST have before AAC can be tried. Common misconceptions and excuses why AAC devices should not be attempted with children: ● The child must understand cause and effect (AAC teaches cause and effect quite quickly and easily) ● The child must understand that a picture represents an object (again, AAC teaches this) ● Child must have good enough motor skills for AAC (there are lots of alternatives for children who can’t access a device accurately with their hands) ● Child must be interested in communicating (even inappropriate behaviors can be shaped into intentional communication)

AAC Evaluation and Device Trials

Session 1-2: ● Determine Speech, Language and Communication Abilities ● Motivation Assessment: Find out motivating activities and items to use in future assessments and trials ● AAC Evaluation: Assessment of skills necessary to successfully access AAC device, this information helps the SLP to narrow the best device for your child

Session 2-6: ● AAC Communication Assessment (Trial Period): Insurance required the trialing of three separate devices to make evidence-based decision on the best device for your child

Session 6-7: ● Delivery of Equipment: family and child are trained on use of device and SLP provides any customizations needed before the family takes the device home ● Ongoing AAC training by a certified SLP is highly recommended for long-term success with AAC device

For more information, visit Step Therapy Pediatrics at

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