05 Sep AAC Options: Everyone has something to say
People with communication difficulties may feel
or embarrassed ?
when they try to communicate their needs, ideas, and opinions.
Imagine if nothing you said was understood by those around you as if you were living in a foreign land and didn’t speak the language.
This is the everyday struggle of many people with a communication difficulty.
This is where AAC options can help.
What are AAC options?
AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Sounds like jargon we know but it “includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas.”
How can we help achieve this?
At Small TALK speech therapy, we work with children and adolescents to help them find their voice. This is so they can connect with others in their world. Every child is different. We help them build their voice in a number of ways.
The theme of Speech Pathology Week for 2017 was “Communication Access for All”. Here are a few of the many ways we help our clients express themselves.
Kids who are verbal may need help to learn how to express themselves in a way others can understand. Mr. L is working on his ability to:
- take turns in conversation
- respond to questions
- use eye contact appropriately
- use and understand some of the more complex aspects of the English language
Here Mr. L is telling a story about what he saw driving past the airport on the way to his lesson. We ensure Mr. L is given the time to tell his story because everyone has something to say.
Just a few AAC Options
Speech Generating Devices
A Speech Generating Device (or SGD) is an electronic device that speaks out loud when buttons are selected. The marketplace is flooded with choices and it’s really important to work with a speech pathologist to help you figure out which option will suit your child the best. SGD may be more common than you think with more than “13,000 Australians using electronic communication aids to get their message across” (Speech Pathology Australia).
SGD range in their capabilities and features, but some examples include text to speech, basic and more complex symbol based communication and video media which can be accessed on an iPad, tablet or special device.
Here Mr. C is using Proloquo 2 Go on his iPad to tell stories. You’ll notice that Mr. C speaks the words, however, he can be difficult to understand to unfamiliar listeners. The device gives him another way to backup his message. We advocate for Mr. C to have access to his device in all settings because everyone has something to say.
PODD stands for Pragmatically Organised Dynamic Display. Basically, it’s a book of
symbols that can be used for many different purposes including:
- expressing opinions
- telling stories
- asking questions
- making requests
- commenting and sharing information
- protesting and objecting
This is Mr. L who is 17 years old. He does not use his voice to speak, but that doesn’t mean he’s got nothing to say. Mr. L is using his PODD book to tell us what he thinks of the milkshake he had just tried. Prior to PODD he didn’t have a way to let others know what he was thinking, other than using a couple of basic gestures and signs which were often misunderstood. We are so thrilled that Mr. L is now able to connect with others using his PODD book which gives him a voice. We advocate for Mr. L to have access to his PODD in all settings because everyone has something to say.
A visual refers to an aid that represents a spoken word or phrase. Visuals can be in the form of photographs, symbols, text, or drawings. We use visuals often to
- teach new concepts
- help kids understand more about a topic or sequence
- teach new vocabulary
- help children to become less reliant on adults
This is Miss K. She has progressed from being minimally verbal to working on combining words and answering questions. Miss K is working with her therapist, Katrina, to learn how to answer “yes/no questions.” Katrina is helping Miss K learn how to respond by using the visuals as an aid. We advocate for Miss K to be supported with visuals because everyone has something to say.
Core Vocabulary Boards
Another tool we love ❤ to use with our clients is coer vocabulary communication boards. These are fixed boards that contain the most commonly used and useful words to use in a simple conversation. At Small TALK we have communication boards in every room of our clinic and many of our clients also have them at home and school. Have a look at some examples of communication boards and the research behind them at http://www.project-core.com
We advocate for communication boards to be used in your home, school, business, and community because everyone has something to say.
Our team blends fun and structured learning methodologies with take home resources and consistent communication on your child’s progress, to achieve the end goal. The Small Talk team are also trained in behaviour management which supports our area of interest in assisting children with Autism or Developmental Delays.
Early intervention is the key to preventing or reducing the lifelong implications for many Australians living with communication impairment.
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