Facts and Myths about AAC

Eastside SpeechGeneral

AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. 

  • Augmentative – refers to compensatory strategies used in conjunction with speech.
  • Alternative – refers to alternative communication strategies to verbal output.

Some children and adults with significant communication difficulties may need to find other ways to get their message across. You might have seen someone write in a book to answer a question or use gestures or signs to communicate. You may have also seen others using pictures or using an iPad or computer to speak for them. These are all types of AAC.  

There are two main types of AAC; Aided and Unaided AAC. Aided AAC includes high-tech and low-tech AAC.

Let’s first debunk some of the many myths associated with the use of AAC systems. Below are some of the most common myths you may have come across: 

  • Using a communication device will hinder or stop the individual from speaking – FALSE!
    • Research indicates that using AAC is actually linked to an increased chance of verbal speech developing and improving. This is because intervention then incorporates a range of modes (e.g. visuals). 
  • AAC is used as a “last resort” in speech and language intervention – FALSE!
    • AAC is considered for any individual with communication difficulties, should it be appropriate.
    • Many other factors are also considered when deciding whether or not to implement AAC:
      • The family’s opinion /need/want for AAC; and whether or not this would be useful at home and in their daily lives 
      • What will bring the greatest benefit to the individual’s communication
  • The individual needs to be “old enough” or not have an intellectual disability to benefit from AAC – FALSE!
    • There are many different kinds of AAC systems of which are simple and easy to use. This means that individuals with cognitive impairments can still access and use AAC.

You might also be interested in What types of Assisted Augmentative Communication are available?