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AAC Devices: How to Get Started

Your SLP has recommended Augmentative and Alternative Communication for your child. But you are unsure of how to kickstart the journey. Understanding how to use AAC devices might seem like an uphill task at the beginning. Many parents may feel lost while exploring speech generating devices. However, with persistence, you can learn vital communication strategies and ensure the communicator’s progress.

Studies have suggested that providing AAC earlier during the intervention can help with the spontaneous speech abilities of children.  To help you get a headstart in the journey, here are some tried and tested practices to successfully implement AAC at home.

Child with AAC devices

Setting  Expectations

Many parents may have unrealistic ideas of how AAC works and the potential timeline of results. As effective as AAC is, it is far from being a magical potion that gives instant results. Therefore, it is important to understand that you need to be patient to see success.

Choose the best App

This is one of the most important steps in AAC implementation. Assess the suitability of the app according to your child’s current language, comprehension, cognitive, and physical abilities. Your child’s SLP can provide valuable inputs to help you choose the right app.

Certain apps have advanced features with vocabulary that grows with your child. Easy personalization is also an important aspect to look out for. You don’t want to spend hours trying to customize the app for your child. Avaz AAC app has a remote feature  which is particularly helpful because an SLP can guide your child even if they are not physically present with the child.

Talk to the Child About How AAC Devices Can Help

Be it getting a dog for the family or buying a new car, parents typically discuss major decisions with children so they are not caught unawares. Similarly, talk to your child about what AAC is. Tell them how it can help with social interactions.  This will prepare the child for the introduction to the AAC system.

Embrace AAC as a Family

All children learn language from hearing people around them talk. The more they listen to words and are encouraged to speak (mistakes and all!), the more likely they are to pick up the vocabulary and other language skills. The same holds true for children with autism and other learning disabilities.

Get together as a family and get educated about the AAC system. Your ease with the system and frequency of usage encourages the child to get familiar with AAC. Using AAC as a family helps the child readily express their views and ideas.

Get Help from Experts

Having groundbreaking speech generating devices is no use if you don’t know how to use it. Parent training is important to ensure optimal use of AAC devices. SLPs can offer guidance based on the communicator’s abilities.

Unfortunately, SLPs may not be always available. In some countries, parents may not have access to SLPs. It is to address this issue that Avaz AAC App has a training module integrated into its app. The module incorporates  best practices recommended by experts and gives detailed instructions on how to use the app. If you need additional help, reach out to the community. Many parents will be more than glad to be of help. Many app makers are also happy to support you through the learning process.

Modelling 

Modelling is the best way to get your child to use AAC. While interacting with the child, model core words as often as possible. Core words are high-frequency words that we use in about 85% of our communication. The best device is the one that provides easy access to the core words.

With consistent modelling, the child will begin to follow your lead and start using the AAC system. Continue to model even after the child gets comfortable with AAC. Adding more words regularly will strengthen the child’s vocabulary.

Create Communication Opportunities

Seek out opportunities where you can use AAC. Whether it is discussing breakfast or talking about a picnic plan, there are so many instances throughout the day where you can use it. Using it in different settings lets the child know that AAC can help communication in many environments.

If your child is into music, talk about the current chart-topper. Talk about the latest superhero movie coming up if your child is a comics fan. Talking about the child’s favourite topics is a great way to get your child to use the AAC system.

Ensure Constant Availability

Make sure the AAC device is charged and always available for use. Carry the device wherever you can. That way, the child’s use of AAC is not restricted to home or school. You can give them picture boards or other forms of low-tech when in places like swimming pools where speech generating devices cannot be used. Avaz AAC app has a PDF option where you can print the child’s vocabulary at the tap of a button and use it in such places.

If you are thinking of purchasing an AAC app, do not hesitate.Empower your child by giving them the gift of communication through AAC.

References:

https://www.speechandlanguagekids.com/teach-your-child-to-use-an-aac-device/

http://ebip.vkcsites.org/augmentative-and-alternative-communication/

https://www.speakforyourself.org/uncategorized/aac-implementation-start/

Do you have any ideas about getting started with AAC devices at home? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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