ICCD Services

Augmentative and Alternative Communication Services

What is AAC?

AAC stands for augmentative and alternative communication. AAC is an acronym that includes all of the ways an individual may communicate without using verbal speech.

Clients with speech and language disorders, may need AAC to help them communicate effectively. Some clients may need to use AAC all the time and others may only use it during certain instances: communicating with a new person who cannot understand them, communicating in a stressful situation, in order to expand the length of their message etc.

AAC can be used across a variety of settings with a variety of communication partners in order to increase effective, functional communication for a child/person.

Types of AAC:

Most children/people who use AAC use a combination of AAC types to communicate.

Unaided Systems (do not require use of anything)

  • Gestures
  • Body language
  • Facial expressions
  • Sign language

Aided Systems (requires use of some sort of tool/device)

Includes both high and low tech

  • Low Tech: pictures, pen and paper, topic boards
  • High Tech: voice output speech-generating devices, applications on iPads

 

Services We Offer:

Evaluations:

  • Comprehensive evaluations are conducted by speech-language pathologists who has extensive AAC experience
  • Evaluations are conducted in order to examine the client’s communication profile across multiple environments
  • Includes parent/caregiver interview, communication with members of the client’s educational team, extensive device trials in order to assess which device or application may be the best fit for the client, exploring and explaining options for funding and providing thorough recommendations for AAC implementation across settings

 

Direct Speech-Language Therapy Services utilizing AAC:

  • Our qualified and knowledgeable speech-language pathologists utilize evidence-based practices during direct therapy sessions with clients in order to teach them skills in the four competencies of AAC while involving the parent/caregiver and familiar communication partners into the therapy experience for best practice
    • Operational Competence: the skills required to use the AAC device
    • Functional/Social Competence: social skills involved in communication: initiating, maintaining and terminating communication interactions in a socially, culturally and contextually appropriate manner
    • Linguistic Competence: the receptive and expressive language development and knowledge of language that is needed to use the AAC system
    • Strategic Competence: ability to gain listener’s attention before selecting a symbol on the device, checking for partner comprehension, repairing communication breakdowns
    • Emotional Competence: development of emotional vocabulary and utilizing that vocabulary to relay feelings, beliefs and thoughts

Consultation

  • training for families, caregivers and educational team members regarding programming and daily use of the client’s AAC device
  • promotes carryover of skills learned in therapy and generalizes learned skills across environments
  • consultation needs based on client and family’s familiarity with the AAC device
  • consultation includes information regarding: device operation, programming, technical support and suggestions for incorporating the device in the client’s day

Populations that may benefit from AAC:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Developmental Delay
  • Down Syndrome
  • Rhett Syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Apraxia of Speech
  • Motor Speech Disorder
  • Severe Phonological Disorder
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

AAC Resources:

Contact Caroline Brinkert , Director of Speech and Language Services, at cbrinkert@iccdpartners.org to schedule a more comprehensive intake conversation and determine the appropriate next steps for your child.

References:
Light, J.C., Beukelman, D.R., & Reichle, J. (Eds.). (2003). Communicative competence for individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication. Baltimore: Paul H. Brooks Publishing Co.

Blackstone, S.W. and Wilkins, E.P. (2009). Exploring the Importance of Emotional Competence in Children with Complex Communication Needs. In: Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 18, 78-87.