There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding AAC.  So what are the prerequisites to AAC?

In short...there are NONE!

Let's talk about some of the myths surrounding this idea that there are prerequisites to AAC.

  1.  A child's cognition is too low:  This one makes me cringe!  there is not way to measure a child's cognition if they do not have a reliable and robust means of communication.  And how are they going to develop a reliable and robust means of communication if no one if providing them with and teaching them the means to develop that.  Research shows that expectations influence a child's growth, so we need to presume potential!  Check out this article by Karen Pape MD.
  2. My child needs to understand symbols in order to for us to introduce AAC:  Children learn what we teach them.  Children begin learning symbols at birth.  Words are symbols.  Children wouldn't learn words if we did not use words to speak to them. The same goes for abstract visual symbols.  Children are not born knowing these things.  We teach them by talking to them.  AAC is no different.  If a child loves play doh, and every time an adult touches play doh as the play doh is presented, or if every time s/he touches play doh on the board or device, she will learn that the symbol represents play doh.
  3.  AAC will prevent my child from speaking, and/or s/he may become reliant on the AAC:  Research shows that the use of AAC only enhances speech development, if speech is going to develop.  There have been no research showing that the use of AAC hinders speech development.
  4. We have to wait until a child is a certain age to introduce AAC, a child is too young for AAC and/or we need to wait to see how speech develops before we introduce AAC:  There is no such thing as too young to begin AAC.  Children begin saying their first words at a very young age.  The wait and see approach limits a child's language and overall communication, while waiting for speech to develop.  Speech and Language are two different things.  Speech is the sounds we produce and the way we combine those sounds to produce words and sentences.  Language includes the type of vocabulary we use, grammar and word order and the "why" of communication.  The use of AAC allows children to develop their language and overall communication skills even when speech is delayed or not present at all.

If you are wondering if your child could benefit from AAC, call our clinic at 619-578-2232, and our office staff will connect you with our AAC Coordinator to discuss your child with you!

What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication?
K and J

Tanya Keller

Meet Tanya, our pediatric speech language pathologist and AAC specialist. Tanya moved from Boston to San Diego. She earned her Master's degree from Emerson College in Boston, in Communication Disorders in 2004 and a second master's degree in Assistive Technology from Simmons College in Boston, in 2012. Tanya has provided speech and language services for children who have complex communication needs, using low and/or high tech augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) with varying diagnoses. Tanya has been mentored by experts in Rett Syndrome and complex communication needs. She is PODD trained and attends the yearly assistive technology conferences. She has experience using a variety of AAC devices and working with alternative access, including eye gaze and switch use. In her free time, Tanya enjoys exploring San Diego, going to the beach and spending time with her dog.

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