October is AAC Awareness Month! But what is AAC? AAC, or Augmentative and Alternative Communication, is a set of tools and strategies that an individual uses to solve every day communicative challenges. Communication can take many forms such as: speech, a shared glance, text, writing, gestures, facial expressions, touch, sign language, symbols, pictures, speech-generating devices, etc. Everyone uses multiple forms of communication, based upon the context and our communication partner. Effective communication occurs when the intent and meaning of one individual is understood by another person.
Today on the blog, I will share 5 reasons to model via AAC!
Whether you call it Modeling or Aided Language Input, teaching AAC by using these strategies are proven effective when working with individuals with complex communication needs.
1. Modeling helps children and adults learn their AAC device faster! According to Dr. Drager, modeling shows the AAC user how the system can be used and may facilitate comprehension for AAC users who have difficulty with spoken words alone, by providing additional visual information.
2. Modeling helps YOU get acquainted with the user’s AAC. Modeling helps YOU, the SLP, teacher, parent, etc., learn the device and navigate through page sets quicker.
3. Modeling is MOTIVATING! Whether you are modeling on your client’s AAC or your own device with a matching page set, your modeling will make the client want to use their device.
4. The importance of imitation. When parents, siblings, and other loved ones see how well modeling works with us, they will imitate how we are using the device. It’s simple enough, if WE use it, then parents, teachers, spouses, and siblings are more likely to model, too.
5. Repetition is the key to learning. When you think about typical language development, children need to hear a word several times before they actually use it. AAC users require the same repetition to be successful in learning to use their device.
Now that you know why modeling is important, get out there and do it!
Dana Gartlan is a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist that has been working with both the pediatric and adult populations for over 5 years. She has recently opened a private practice that provides in-home speech therapy services to patients in the Chicagoland area.