Alternative Augmentative Communication or AAC Communication Aids is a type of communication used to assist people to communicate through gestures, hand pointing, eye pointing or vocalizations. We use this to communicate when speech is absent or unable to make.
It can be used with children who have Autism, Cerebral palsy, Apraxia of speech and adults who suffer from disorders such as aphasia, dysarthria and other neuro degenerative disorders.
People who use AAC, Able to make requests, comments, sharing information, express emotions, choose and refuse the things in their activity of daily living.
Basically we break AAC in to 2 groups.
1. Unaided AAC
In unaided AAC, people do not need any physical tool for support. It is communication through your body. Examples are,
- Facial expression
- Sign language
- Blinking of eyes
The disadvantages of this method are; people requiring motor ability and there being limited communication partners who know about the symbols.
2. Aided AAC
In Aided communication, people require a tool which is tangible and representational
There are two types of Aided AAC that is
1) High- Tech AAC
It uses high technological instruments such as tab, mobile phone, computers. All these apps falls under High- Tech category.
2) Low- Tech AAC
As the name suggests it uses low technological instruments such as paper, name cards,bell …
These kind of AACs can be used in our speech therapy centers, homes and any where to help a person to communicate.
Do you know?
The famous theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author Stephen Hawking who suffered from slow-progressing form of motor neurone disease (MND) used high tech AACs such as text to speech.
List of free AAC apps and paid apps that you can use
Free AAC apps which can support with both apple/iphone & android.
- Athuru Mithuru (අතුරු මිතුරු)
- Avaaz (for iPhones only)
Benefits in using a Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC)
People who use AAC have many benefits ; it helps to build language and communication. Speaker is more independent. Increased participation in the daily living activities with family & friends. Able to build up and continue the social relationships. Reduced the frustration and improved mental health.
Myths about Using AAC Communication Aids
However, due to myths about using AAC, people mostly get discouraged to use these methods . In most of the situations, parents are afraid to use AAC for their children thinking that “AAC stops the Speech Language Development and if we use this my child is never gonna talk”
As a speech therapist, we want to say it is absurd. And you become a barrier for your child’s speech development. In fact,using AAC may enhance both receptive and expressive language of your child.
If you feel, that your child needs AAC? That it is beneficial for your child, feel free to contact a professional speech therapist who will be able to guide.