Augmentative - Alternative Communication (AAC)
Adults can support students who are do not use verbal language through use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems and strategies.
It is important to remember that AAC does not just mean picture-based systems or technology. AAC includes all forms of communication other than oral speech that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas.
AAC is used when an individual makes facial expressions or gestures, use symbols or pictures, or write.
To support purposeful communication and positive behavior, adults need to ensure that the AAC supports used with a student matches their level of understanding, skills, and needs as some students who use AAC are symbolic, while others are not.
Additionally, AAC systems should be incorporated throughout the day in real-life contexts with adults modeling language on the device versus only being incorporated during speech and language services or only when the speech-language pathologist is present.
Aided Language Stimulation is one intervention focused on teaching students how to communicate with their devices.
Aided Language Stimulation (ALgS)
What Is It?
ALgS teaches students who use aided symbols (pictures, low or high tech devices, etc.) how to use symbols to communicate and validates the student's device as an effective communication system.
How To ALgS
The adult models language by selecting the symbols on the device while speaking so the student hears the message and sees how to produce it on the device.
This is done during naturalistic and meaningful interactions and activities, not teaching symbols in drill-based tasks (e.g., "This means..." or "Point to...").
Adults should model language that matches the language level of the student, just like how language is modified when speaking to young children. For example, if a student is at the single word level, the adult would model 1-3-word combinations on the device. This allows the student to access language slightly above their current level, but still at a level that will not overwhelm the student and builds on success.