AAC: Steps to Figuring Out Where to Start | A Gift of Speech

AAC Where to Start

Figuring out the big question about AAC: Where do I start?

One of the many things that I have learned working with children is the need to be flexible.  I might design what I feel is a “perfect” starting place for a child only to find out the level was too high or too low!

So what do I look at when I design an AAC program?

Current language skills:  OK, so that seems like a “no-brainer,” but it is essential to have a basic idea of their language level.  You would not start an early communicator with a complex folder navigation system.

  • Do they request wants and needs or information?
  • What is their approximate receptive vocabulary level?  Expressive vocabulary?
  • What does their vocabulary consist of?  Is it just nouns, or is it a mix of parts of speech?
  • Do they use word approximations, signs, or any other form of communication?

Joint Attention/Social Referencing:  A student’s attention to you and others is also important to consider.  If a child has little to no awareness of others in their environment, then teaching them to use AAC may prove chall

Motivation to Communicate:  There needs to be motivation to communicate.  If individuals are already getting all their wants and needs met through gestures or pointing, why would they need their device?  We need to set up scenarios to create the motivation to communicate!

Please note that below I have shown examples of screenshots.  The most critical component of designing an AAC program is INDIVIDUALIZATION!  You can not simply pull up a core page and get started.  You have to evaluate the language needs of that individual.  Please see “creating personalized vocabulary” for a discussion on how to create an individualized and functional core system.

Early Communicator Example Screen Shot examples:

Developing Communicator

IMG_0384-225x300                       core vocabulary, AAC


Next, see “Creating Individualized Vocabulary.”