Communicating in ways other than speaking can seem a little scary and unfamiliar at first. However, if we look at our own interactions, we communicate in a lot of different ways every day. From waving hello to pointing to something we want (and even tagging our friends in memes), people naturally use a range of ways to make their message heard.
For children and adults who have yet developed spoken language, Alternative and Augmentative Communication (or AAC) is a tool that allows them to express themselves in the present, and a strategy that helps them develop their communication skills for the future.

Common types of AAC include:

Key Word Sign (using natural gestures and selected signs from Auslan)
Printed symbol systems, including individual symbols, Aided Language Stimulation boards, PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) sentence strips and full books such as the PODD (Pragmatic Organised Dynamic Display)
iPad apps such as Proloquo2Go, LAMP Words for Life, Snap+ Core and others
Dedicated high tech speech generating devices, including those with eye-gaze access for people with physical disabilities

There are many factors involved in whether or not a nonverbal (non-speaking) child will learn to speak, and it is often not able to be predicted. What we do know though, is that providing other ways for a child to get their message across does NOT stop them from developing speech and may actually help them to! Most importantly, giving a child a way to express their wants, needs and thoughts helps prevent their frustration and risk of social, emotional, behavioural and learning difficulties.

Speech Pathologists use AAC as a tool for those who need it, but teach them the same things as any other person learning to speak: how to tell people what they think, need and want (or don’t want), and how to use language to learn from and connect with others.

If or when a child does learn to speak, it’s most likely that they will choose speech over any other method. Speech is always available and in most cases is easier than searching for the right symbol. At the end of the day, everyone needs to express their ideas. Being heard is the most important thing- no matter what method someone uses.

Helpful Links:

Rocky Bay – AAC Does Not Hinder Natural Speech Development
Key Word Sign Australia
PECS Australia
Spectronics PODD
Independent Living Centre: Speech Generating Devices

If you are looking for a speech pathologist in Toowoomba, Chinchilla, Beenleigh or Northern Brisbane area, please feel free to contact us and book an assessment with one of our talented speech pathologists.