Augmentative and Assistive Communication (AAC) for Children with Autism in Vancouver

AAC for Children with Autism in Vancouver

Augmentative and Assistive Communication (AAC) has become very beneficial and helpful for those who has communication or speech-language pathologies. Indeed, many children on the autism spectrum are included in the population that benefit from this technology.

What is AAC? AAC is a tiered form of technology-aided assistance in helping those who cannot speak and communicate with others for themselves to do so. This form of technology may come in the form of iPads that use specialized program, tablets, Picture Exchange Systems, Voice Output Communication Aides, Communication boards or books as well as computerized systems Quicker Talker and GoTalk.

The overall aim of these systems are to express to others the wants and needs of the person using the device and to also display the individuals unique personality to the best of its limitations, without too much compromise.

Many person have heard the phrase Autism spectrum Disorder, but do not know what it is. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability characterised by social-communication deficits as well as restrictive repetitive behaviours such as hand flapping, tip-toeing and head bunking. Many persons on the autism spectrum can communicate well for themselves, as they are high functioning. However there is indeed a large number which cannot, because they are on the severe end of the spectrum.

Below are some options of AAC to use for these individuals, which would greatly improve the quality of life for them and those around them.

Communication Boards

Communication boards are, as the name suggests, boards or small platforms which have pictures and symbols of items, feelings and other expressive phrases which your child can touch, point to or gaze at in an attempt to communicate these corresponding meanings to those they engage with. The Communication board is a recommended AAC apparatus as it allows for a child to communicate other functions other than just requesting such as commenting, labelling, asking and answering questions. They can be used in the home, at school or even in the grocery store!

Picture Exchange System (PECS)

Similar to Communication Boards, PECS facilitates communication between a child experiencing communication challenges and others by allowing the child to use it as a means to bridge expression. Unlike the communication board, the images and words underneath them on the PECS system are separated one by one on cards, often with a Velcro attachment on them. The idea behind the PECS system is to have the child trained to arrange several words and pictures together on a strip to form sentences when attempting to express themselves to request items. However, PECS is typically a last resort at Vancouver Speech Therapy, as children often have a lot more to say than just requesting items. This is true even for children just starting on their AAC journey.

Digital Devices – iPads and Tablets

As we continue to become a generation which is well advanced in technology, AAC options are now available via iPads and Tablets. These take on more of the approach of Communication Boards but also has additional features such as automatically speaking out the words and sentences which the child desires to express. Many of the apps that are used for AAC on iPads or Tablets not only help the child communicate with others but also teach them how to communicate on their own through a myriad of interactive lessons and games. This is one particular advantage of using AAC on digital devices. Another is that if the chid adapts well to the communication board, they can easily be transferred to a digital device such as an iPad, which has much more features.

Please ensure you speak with your speech and language pathologist to determine which AAC model is best for your child. Your Speech pathologist will be able to help your child adjust to the novelty of these devices as well as provide tips for learning through the various processes involved.

There are many places which provide speech therapy  (SLP) in Vancouver and Vancouver Speech Therapy is one of the leading providers in the area. If you need assistance with your child, don’t hesitate to contact them!

Happy communicating!

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