What is Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)?

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. We all use AAC when we make facial expressions or use gestures, use symbols or pictures, or write.  AAC includes unaided and aided communication.

Unaided communication includes methods of communication that rely on a person’s body to communicate and do not require additional communication materials.  Unaided communication includes facial expressions, gestures, body movements, vocalizations, verbalizations, sign language and eye gaze.

Aided communication requires tools or equipment that are not part of a users body.  This include paper based communication systems  and written communication as well as high tech speech generating devices with voice output.

Who can benefit from AAC?

People who can not effectively use speech to say what they want, when they want, and how they want, benefit from other means of communication. Individuals may be nonverbal, and use AAC as an alternative to speech, or they may have speech but are unintelligible, and use AAC to augment their communication. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Children with Rett Syndrome and related disorders
  • Children who have global developmental delays
  • Children with neurological and genetic disorders
  • Children with multiple disabilities who do not have a formal diagnosis
  • Young children who are not effectively communicating due to significantly reduced speech and language
  • Children with Autism
  • Children who have significantly reduced intelligibility due to motor speech and severe phonological disorders and could benefit from AAC to augment speech
  • Children who require AAC and have a diagnosis of CVI
  • Children who use a variety of access methods, including direct selection (directly touching the screen with a finger), eye gaze and switches

Our Philosophy

We believe in presuming competence in all of our children.  We believe all children deserve access to a robust communication system and to build their literacy skills.  We use a variety of assistive technology to accomplish this.  All children can learn, and it is up to those caring and working with those children to provide the means to optimize their learning.  We believe in not only working directly with children, but with their caregivers to support communication in the home environment.


  • AAC assessment to determine what communication system would be best for a child
  • Speech language therapy sessions focused on use of AAC
  • We are happy to provide consultation to your child's school team to ensure that everyone working with your child is trained and comfortable in implementation of the communication system
  • 1:1 parent training after clinic hours and on weekends

How are AAC sessions structured?

We all need to want to communicate, therefore sessions are provided using activities that the child likes and become engaged in.  We believe in taking the child's lead, and creating communicative opportunities from that.  AAC is incorporated into naturally occurring routines, within highly preferred activities and within the context of literacy activities.