Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

This refers to other ways of communicating, not speech. Augmentative communication usually refers to non-verbal communication used together with speech. This could be the use of signing, picture symbols or software alongside talking. Alternative communication usually means using an alternative means of communication instead of speech.

The use of AAC can help children by reducing their frustration when trying to communicate, helps them to develop their learning and ability to interact socially. It also helps others understand what the child is trying to say.

There are any different types of AAC. These include –

  • Signing
  • Using picture symbols
  • Developing communication books with words, pictures or symbols
  • Using objects of reference – real objects that mean a certain message
  • Visual timetables or charts
  • I Pads
  • High tech voice output communication aids
  • Computer based systems.

Speech and Language Therapists can help a child with AAC needs by –

  • Assessing a child’s abilities and needs
  • Liaising with parents
  • Having an up to date knowledge of different AAC systems
  • Working with other professionals to look at suitability of a particular form of AAC
  • Advising on the appropriate AAC system to use to develop language and general communication
  • Understanding how to access these systems
  • Understanding when to modify/change / update the AAC over time

Last updated: January 26th, 2018