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Alternative & Augmentative Communication (AAC)

Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) encompasses tools and strategies designed to support individuals with communication challenges. These tools include picture boards, communication apps, sign language, and speech-generating devices (SGDs). AAC is particularly beneficial for individuals who have difficulty speaking or understanding spoken language due to conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, apraxia of speech, or other developmental delays.

AAC systems allow individuals to convey thoughts, needs, feelings, and ideas independently. They promote language development, vocabulary expansion, and social communication skills. AAC assessments, typically conducted by speech-language pathologists (SLPs), determine the most appropriate AAC system based on the individual's abilities and preferences.

People who may benefit from communicating with an AAC device include:


  • Individuals with ASD

  • Those with cerebral palsy

  • Individuals with Down syndrome

  • People with apraxia of speech

  • Individuals with traumatic brain injury

  • Those with developmental delays

  • Anyone experiencing speech or language difficulties due to various conditions

Will giving my child an AAC device keep them from talking?

Actually, it's the opposite! AAC devices have been found to HELP language development!


Research has consistently shown that Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) devices do not hinder language development; instead, they can promote language acquisition and communication skills in individuals with communication challenges. Many parents may initially have concerns that introducing an AAC device could impede their child's verbal communication or delay language development. However, studies have indicated the opposite effect, demonstrating that AAC devices can have positive impacts on language skills, vocabulary acquisition, and social communication abilities.

One study published in the "Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders" found that children with autism who used AAC devices showed significant gains in communication skills, including increased vocabulary and improved sentence structure. Another study published in the "American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology" concluded that AAC intervention positively influenced language development in children with developmental disabilities, leading to improved expressive and receptive language abilities.

AAC devices provide individuals with opportunities to practice and use language in meaningful contexts, facilitating language learning and communication interactions. They can also reduce frustration and anxiety associated with communication challenges, leading to increased confidence and engagement in social interactions. Overall, AAC devices are valuable tools that support language development and communication success in individuals with diverse communication needs.


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