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Explore Alternative Communication Methods (Part 1)

Posted by: Melissa Cooprider, MS, CCC-SLP – Speech Language Pathologist – UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders

The acquisition of speech and language skills is a significant milestone in a child’s life. But some individuals are “functionally nonverbal” because they aren’t able to use spoken language in an age-appropriate manner to communicate with others. These people often benefit from some form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).

AAC takes many forms, including picture cards, communication books, low-tech communication devices, eye-gaze systems and high-tech speech-generating devices. It is important to have an individual evaluation to determine which type of AAC might be useful for your child.

Parents often worry that if they introduce another form of communication to their children, such as sign language or a speech-generating device, their children won’t learn to communicate verbally. But recent research indicates just the opposite. Using AAC does not negatively affect spoken language development and, in some cases, speech production increased after a form of AAC was introduced. AAC also can help decrease frustration and behavioral concerns for many children who are eager to communicate.

For more information, please visit the AAC Institute’s website, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s AAC resource page and the Assistive Technology Industry Association website.

In next week’s blog post, I’ll offer more tips on AAC and how to recognize the need for it.

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