What is AAC?

AAC = Augmentative and Alternative Communication

It is a term that's used to describe various methods of communication that can help people who are unable to use verbal speech to communicate. AAC is designed for Autism, Down Syndrome, ALS, apraxia, stroke, etc.

AAC stands for augmentative and alternative communication. It refers to tools and strategies that can enhance speech or provide completely different means of communication. AAC can be aided (using a device) or unaided (no means needed), such as sign language or gestures. The truth is we all use some AAC. We text, type, write, and use gestures. Additional instruments, such as communication devices, books, or apps, can provide

means of communication for individuals who cannot speak.

Through communication, it comes to everything. It is the way people interact, establish relationships, learn about the world and others, and make themselves understood.

It is clear that everyone has questions, doubts, and curiosities and on the other hand, also something to say, to let others know about.

 

But what about people who find it harder or even impossible to speak?

AAC is the answer

AAC means Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

But what does it really mean?

Augmentative communication represents the addition of different elements to the speech to support it and help the information be transmitted clearly and in a more efficient manner.

Alternative communication is a way of expressing thoughts, ideas and feelings, desires and needs without actually using speech.

The two terms are combined to convey the system of communication methods used to supplement or even substitute natural speech for those who are unable to use it efficiently.

Facts and Myths about AAC

Myth: “AAC is only for nonverbal individuals.”

Fact: Actually, it is for anyone who does not have reliable verbal speech as any patient who does not have effective expressive communication.

Myth: “AAC hinders further speech development.”

Fact: Especially for young children, it is the exact opposite. It enhances the development of spoken communication.

Myth: “AAC is the last resort in the speech-language intervention.”

Fact: AAC can play important roles in early communication development.

Using AAC tools makes a difference especially for children, who are much likely expected to improve their communication skills. Such tools are used in different therapies for kids to practice their language interactively. It is also a great strategy to use to make the conversations evolve a lot quicker than without it.

Also in urgent situations, when individuals encounter communication deficits, AAC apps ease the process of them getting the help they need. They do not have to struggle anymore to tell people taking care of them what is going on or what they need. Especially being an emergency, time is priceless and AAC helps saving it.

Conclusions

Augmentative and alternative communication, no matter the age, is an effective rehabilitation approach to people with impairments in linguistic expression, helping these patients increase their social participation while enhancing their self-esteem.

Researchers hypothesize that using an AAC device relieves the pressure of having to speak, allowing the individual to focus on communication and that the reduction in psychological stress makes speech production easier and others speculate that the model of spoken output facilitates an increase in speech production.

 

Who is AAC for?

AAC is used by people who have difficulty producing oral speech due to speech or language deficits.

 

AAC can help people augment or supplement their communication, or serve as an alternative to their communication.

 

Those who utilize AAC may use it temporarily or long-term, depending on individual circumstances.

Examples of individuals who use AAC include those with:

  • autism spectrum disorders (ASDs)

  • developmental delays

  • apraxia & dyspraxia

  • cerebral palsy

  • cognitive impairments

  • physical disabilities

  • traumatic brain injury (TBI)

  • stroke

  • cancer

  • degenerative diseases

This list includes many common causes for using AAC, however, it is not all-inclusive; there can be many reasons to use AAC.

 

The important thing to remember is if you or someone you know is having difficulty communicating for whatever reason, AAC may likely be beneficial.

The user should not prove he can use AAC

There are no skills a child must have in order to be considered a candidate for an AAC device.

In fact, AAC can actually help a child learn those skills faster. We use the technology to TEACH the language/concepts.

Communication is a human right and everyone must have access to it.

 

Benefits of AAC

There are a lot of benefits when it comes to using AAC.

The most known are:

- it not only benefits the user of it meaning the person with communicating problems, but it is also very helpful for the ones interacting with him

 

- it has a positive impact on language development

 

- it helps individuals integrate into society, creating deep bonds between people such as friendships

 

- it can represent a good and easy platform for specialists and parents to work with children who have communication difficulties

 

- usually, high-tech AAC systems are very adaptable and are easy to personalize for each individual’s needs and preferences

 

-it gives the chance for a more active social life in all fields: family, friendship, professional area

 

- it enhances the quality of life for users both physically and mentally

What people without AAC go through

People that do not use AAC may go through tough experiences such as:

- loneliness

- social anxiety

- inability to express themselves

- frustration and negative emotions because for them it is much more difficult to connect with others and communicate properly

- they might be misunderstood a lot of times, unfortunately, and children with complex communication needs are denied opportunities to participate in appropriate general education

 

Every aspect of the life of individuals who do not use AAC methods might be much more complicated starting from home life, the simple interactions with family members, and continuing with both social and professional fields. So it might make people with speech difficulties feel uncomfortable socializing and this can determine them get introverted and isolate. This can only make the situation worse because if individuals are not stimulated to connect with others and try to communicate, they will refuse to do it and not only their skills will not improve, but it will mean an actual regress.

 

Because no one wants such results it is way better to use AAC. There are a lot of options for specific communicating needs for each individual.

How does AAC help?

AAC apps have a variety of options for their users. They can only use symbols, words, expressions or even complex phrases.

Using AAC tools makes a difference especially for children, who are much likely expected to improve their communication skills. Such tools are used in different therapies for kids to practice their language interactively. It is also a great strategy to use to make the conversations evolve a lot quicker than without it.

Also in urgent situations, when individuals encounter communication deficits, AAC apps ease the process of them getting the help they need. They do not have to struggle anymore to tell people taking care of them what is going on or what they need. Especially being an emergency, time is priceless and AAC helps saving it.

 

How does AAC work?

​​
Just tap the picture of the desired item/action/question/etc.
So simple, but so powerful.
You can say anything! From basic needs to a whole phrase.
Let's say, as an example, that the user wants to sleep. 
This is how he can say it:
Step 1. Tap the "I need" button
Step 2. Tap the "to sleep" button
...and the iPad will say the message: "I need to sleep"
 

Types of AAC

There are more types of AAC. Depending on the user's needs, and budget, you can choose the from a variety of options.

  • Gestures

  • Manual Signs

  • Facial Expressions

  • Vocalizations

  • Verbalizations

  • Body Language

  • Pictures

  • Objects

  • Photographs

  • Writing

  • Communication boards/books

  • Speech Generating Devices (SGD)

  • Single Message Devices and Recordable/Digitized Devices

  • AAC software that enables dynamic symbol/language representation and that is used with a computer/tablet/smartphone

Unaided AAC does not require special outside tools or any supplemental materials, because it is based on natural communication such as facial expressions, gestures, body language, informal vocalization. It even implies sign languages.

Aided AAC is any device, either electronic or non-electronic, that is used to transmit or receive messages. It can range from communication books or boards to speech-generating devices.

 

Aided AAC is divided into two categories: low-tech aids and high-tech aids.

 

The first one refers to non-electronic devices, represented usually by very simple communication books or boards from each the user selects letters, words, phrases, symbols, objects, or images to transmit a message.

The second category includes speech generating devices or voice output communication aid in electronic format. There are usually digitalized, playing recorded words or phrases, or synthesized, using text-to-speech software.

 

Text-based

vs.

Symbol-based

Text-based

A text-based AAC system has an incorporated keyboard. This system suits people who type the words they want to say.

They can also choose from pre-written phrases/words.

They can read and write. 


Basically, text-based AAC is a combination of spelling and choosing pre-written messages. 

Symbol-based

Many AAC system are symbol-based. The most majority of people needs symbols and pictures to communicate.

 

These types of people usually can't read or spell. Having visual symbols that represent words or phrases helps them. However, some people know how to write and still find symbols more useful.

Fluent AAC

Fluent AAC is the voice of over 10 000 people with speech difficulties!

COMPANY

RESOURCES

SUPPORT

#YourWordsMatter

© 2018 by Vademecum SRL. All rights reserved. Proudly created with passion