AAC – What the??

Communication is comprised of many factors, understanding, expression and body language as examples. The typically developing population can get by with understanding spoken language and expressing themselves through speech. But what if you aren’t typically developing?

Speech Pathologists to the rescue!!!

Augmentative and Alternative Communication put simply is a communication mode that is additional to or instead of speech. You might recall seeing Christopher Reeve using a speech generating device when giving talks and interacting with those around him. Luckily for Christopher Reeve, he could easily understand what was said to him, so his difficulty was expressive – being heard and understood by others.

For many other people, they cannot understand what is spoken to them quite as easily. This can be for many reasons and can be permanent or temporary. They may need pictures or key word signs to help them understand what is being said to them. And these can be developed by a Speech Pathologist to match different purposes (for example, to help the person understand where they are going next, to help them understand their routine, to help them understand what is expected of them or to help them understand an instruction, to tell someone a story, to help them order their meal from a cafe).

To help someone’s understanding, their communication partner needs to be able to use their communication system. And when I say communication partner, I don’t just mean their parents, I mean their teacher, their friends, their siblings, their grandparents, babysitter, support worker. Everyone who interacts with them needs to be able to use the person’s communication system.

AAC systems can be paper based or electronic with a voice. They can also use only your body and no additional items (for example, Key Word Sign).

Everyone’s AAC system is different because everyone’s needs are different. There is no one-size-fits-all.

It is a Speech Pathologist’s role to help you find the AAC system that suits you, and to help you (and those you interact with) learn how to use it. Trialling different systems takes time and we all need to be patient. Contact us to help you communicate and participate more in life.

Check out Speech Pathology Australia’s website for more information about AAC. https://www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/Communication_Hub/Resources/Fact_Sheets/Augmentative-and-Alternative-Communication.aspx