The Learn AAC Guide is a comprehensive resource for individuals using symbol-based Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). It contains essential elements to help users become successful communicators. Here’s a breakdown of the key sections:
Setting up for AAC:
- Presume competence: Always presume competence and provide access to AAC without requiring prerequisite skills or age restrictions.
- Choose a balanced AAC system: Choose a system that balances core words with quick access to fringe vocabulary and the alphabet.
- Select a grid size: Base the grid size on the user’s visual and tactile capabilities, not cognitive skills or assumptions.
- Individualize vocabulary and system: Customize the vocabulary and system settings to meet the user’s specific needs.
- Make AAC always available: Ensure that AAC is accessible in all environments, with options like cases, straps, paper-based copies, and device readiness.
- Get the team on board: Educate all team members about AAC and their role in AAC learning.
- Plan for AAC throughout the day: Integrate AAC into daily routines, specifying when and how it can be used.
- Begin modeling: Point to words on the system during interactions, not just for requests.
- Activity-specific vs. using balanced vocabulary: Focus on core words and fringe folders rather than creating activity-specific boards.
- Look into communication functions: Plan and model words that serve communication functions and expand the user’s language capabilities.
- Build Communication Partner skills: Teach communication partners to model words, prompt, respond, make comments, and accept all forms of communication.
- Engage and interact: Choose engaging activities that motivate communication and provide opportunities for modeling.
Building language and communication:
- Learn about core word teaching strategies: Explore strategies for teaching core words, including planning based on activities or communication functions.
- Teach Grammar: Consider teaching word combinations and grammar to AAC users ready for this step.
- Incorporate comprehensive literacy instruction: Combine communication learning with literacy development, including sounds/letters, reading, spelling, and writing.
- Develop practical ideas for building language: Build a resource of ideas and materials that promote language and communication development.
- Review and reflect: Continuously review and monitor progress, reflect, make changes, try new approaches, and persist in AAC efforts.
Potential Roadblocks to success:
- Give up too soon: Don’t give up too quickly; be persistent, plan for success, and celebrate achievements.
- Lack of support in different environments: Ensure AAC is available in various settings, collaborate with teams, and provide evidence of its benefits.
- Stuck at choice-making and requesting: Avoid limiting language to choices; model language for various communication functions.
- Different AAC Systems in one environment: Provide teams with flexibility to switch between systems, as AAC users are often more adaptable than their environment.
- AAC will stop a person learning to speak: Research shows that AAC can have positive effects on speech and language development and does not hinder the user’s ability to speak.
- AAC users are required to prove themselves: Presume competence and avoid setting prerequisites before allowing access to a full balanced AAC system.
Note that every AAC user is unique, so flexibility is crucial at each phase of their journey.