What is an Augmentative or Alternative Communication System (AAC)

augmentative, alternative communication, communication

If it appears a child may take some time to learn to speak or may find speech is not an option, then Augmentative or Alternative Communication (AAC) systems may need to be put into place. AAC communication methods are used to supplement or replace speech. It does not mean that speech or vocalisation goals cannot be included in communication goals. The AAC system allows the child to use and develop expressive language skills.

Helping a Child to Communicates is the most important goal and AAC can assist this goal.

It is important that children have an opportunity to communicate their needs, wants and ideas. This allows them to be part of the family and community around them. It is also essential for new and ongoing learning.

​Generally verbal or speech is an end goal for many children and families. However, for some children this can be something that will take a long time to achieve. Some children may not develop “functional” speech skills.

What is an Augmentative or Alternative Communication system (AAC)

AAC is the term used for all communication that is not speech. It is used to enhance or to replace speech. An AAC System means the whole range or combination of methods used for communication, for example,

  • gestures,
  • eye pointing at objects/symbols/pictures
  • modified vocalizations,
  • pointing to pictures or symbols,
  • developing sign language skills and/or
  • using specific devices/ systems
    • PECs (Picture Exchange Communication)
    • PODD
    • iPad Apps/ electronic devices.

Myths about AAC stopping or preventing speech to develop

Romski and Sevcik (2005) provide some myths or barriers to the success of any AAC that sometimes surround successful AAC implementation.

Myth: AAC is a “last resort” and means a child will never “talk”: There much evidence demonstrating the interaction between AAC and speech, language and literacy development. (Millar, Light, & Schlosser, 2006; Schlosser & Wendt, 2008).
Myth: Children must have a certain set of skills to be able to benefit from AAC: for people with significant motor or neurological difficulties, they may not be able to express themselves until they have a functional AAC. Children may incorporate AAC into their language systems from young ages but older children can be ready at later stages,
SpeechNet aims to support families to investigate the best options to assist them to communicate with their child and for them to be able to interact and learn from one other.

We liaise with schools, carers, occupational therapists and other members of the child’s support team to decide on options. We are NDIS providers and can assist in planning your child’s needs.

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