Speech, Occupational, Physical Therapy and Social Work

Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC)

What is AAC or Augmentative Alternative Communication?

AAC is a term used to describe the systems and devices used by people that have limited verbal skills or are nonverbal.

Augmentative Communication vs. Alternative Communication

Augmentative Communication: when a device is used to supplement, or in addition to, existing speech. 

Alternative Communication: when a device is used in place of speech. Candidates for alternative communication devices typically do not have the ability to communicate verbally.

Describe an AAC Device…

There are many kinds of AAC devices! Some of these include: an ipad or a tablet, a Speech Generating Device (SGD), a board, eye gaze, picture symbols or a picture book. Anything that assists or enables communication can be considered AAC.

Who uses AAC?

Generally there are two groups of people that use AAC devices:

Temporary Users: individuals with injuries, like a Traumatic Brain Injury, stroke, ALS, etc. Devices are used temporarily, until communication skills are restored through healing and rehabilitation. 

Long Term Users: individuals with congenital disorders or disabilities (i.e. Autism, Cerebral Palsy, severe Childhood Apraxia of Speech) that will require long term communication assistance. 

How do people communicate using AAC?

There are 3 general categories for AAC: high tech, low tech and no tech. 

High Tech AAC: an ipad or tablet, a device that has pre-recorded messages, software that is “dynamic” meaning it can change based on the users needs.  

Low Tech AAC: pictures, writing, drawing, communication boards or books. The display is “static” meaning it does not change. 

 No Tech AAC: gestures, signs / sign language, facial expressions, body language, and making sounds or “vocalizations.”

What can an AAC user say? Absolutely anything! Access to vocabulary is an important aspect of AAC. A speech therapist should teach, and program devices for access to different types of vocabulary. The basic types of vocabulary are Core and Fringe. 

Core vocabulary are everyday words that people use like basic nouns, pronouns, verbs, and question words. 

Fringe vocabulary are words that are specific to an activity, like Disney princess names or sports terminology. 

If you have questions about AAC devices or pediatric therapy services please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our team is happy to collaborate and make recommendations. 

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Inquire about AAC Services for your Child

Click the button below to complete a short questionaire about your child. Our team will follow up with specific recommendations

COVID-19 Protocol

We hope you and your family are continuing to stay safe and healthy! We have outlined our protocols for in-person sessions during COVID-19. As you know, the health and safety of our clients and therapists remain our highest priority. As always, please reach out with any questions or concerns. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we work together through these unprecedented times.

Hand Washing:
Upon arrival at your home, your therapist will wash their hands with soap and water and/or use hand sanitizer. We ask that you and your child also wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer upon your therapist’s arrival.
We are asking our therapists to wear masks upon entering your home and throughout your child’s session. That said, we understand that some children have adverse reactions to seeing adults in masks and will leave it up to you and your therapist to decide your comfort level while still taking safety precautions.
We ask that parents and caregivers also follow the guidelines and wear masks when sitting in on sessions. We will not enforce that policy, but we do kindly ask for compliance.
As for your child, we realize that masks may not be appropriate for every child so we will not enforce the rule that children over the age of 2 should wear a mask.  However, if your therapist insists that your child wear a mask, then that will be a requirement directly between the two of you. We respect our therapists’ individual comfort levels with safety precautions and ask that you respect them as well.


Protocol Acknowledgment and Health Certification:

Before your child’s first in-person session, we are asking clients to submit an acknowledgment of these protocols and a health certification, which you can find here. Thank you again for your cooperation and for helping all of us stay healthy!