Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is defined as the use of methods to replace or support verbal communication. AAC interventions include a wide range of systems from no technology (gestures, signs,) to low technology (communication board or wallet,) to high technology (speech generating devices.)
Chris began using PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) at school and home, at age three. In the classroom, they also included visual boards and basic sign language. Later, he made use of a communication wallet. He has proven to be a visual learner, so I always made sure to have lots of flash cards, picture books, and magazines for him to peruse through.
Currently, he continues to take part in 1:1 Speech Therapy and a Sign Language group at school, though he is unable to physically “sign” himself. In addition, he has visual supports in place, and currently uses a program called Proloquo2Go on an iPad mini.
Using a speech device is very controversial amongst Speech Therapists. Some believe it will impede speech, while others believe it will aide and possibly improve communication.
It may seem a bit scary to try using an AAC device, if you are among those who believe it will delay or stop speech. With Chris, we went through every type of low tech AAC with limited growth; So, I was very open and enthusiastic about trying a speech generating device. He has only been using this latest device (iPad Mini/Proloquo2Go) for the latter part of this school year; but, I have already begun to see growth in speech. This AAC device is used to compliment Christopher’s speech, not replace his voice that I am so eager to hear.