Won’t using AAC hold back speech development?
This is a really common anxiety. However, all the research suggests that far from holding speech back, using AAC can even encourage it.
For example, when Diane Millar, Janice Light and Ralph Schlosser analysed the literature in 2006, they found that following the introduction of AAC, no cases demonstrated a decrease in speech production, some showed no change, and most demonstrated gains in speech production.
For some, use of AAC will be part of their journey towards speech. Whilst speech is developing, it can underpin the development of their language and communication skills. This means that language isn’t ‘put on hold’ until speech comes, resulting in long term deficits or delays. For others, use of AAC will be part of their lives forever. Either way, putting the work in now will only help someone to be a good communicator, however this is done, in the future.
Why do you recommend paper based resources alongside screen based solutions?
The world of communication aid technology has come on so far in the last few years that some people question whether there is still a role for low tech (or paper-based) AAC. There is! Paper based resources are wonderfully flexible and can be used in so many different contexts. They have the great advantage of not requiring batteries, so they are always available, and with no screen to smash, they are pretty durable too. For some, paper based resources are a great back up to their high tech system (for example, when their system runs out of battery or when they are somewhere where the high tech system can’t be used – like bed or bath), and for others they are their main method of communication.
In reality most people who use AAC communicate using a range of different approaches that includes their own mixture of low tech AAC, sounds (or some speech), gesture, signing, drawing, writing and high tech AAC. For example, someone might use their eyes to draw your attention to the box of cereal they would like you to pass them, make a sound to greet a friend, and use their high tech AAC device to have a discussion around an issue that is important to them. Beth explains this beautifully in her video.
Janice Light and David McNaughton are well known researchers in the field. They stress that technology in and of itself is not important – what’s important is the communication. Technology is just one tool among many that can help us to communicate.
Can you offer training at my school or workplace?
Absolutely! You can find out about our training services here.
We have also developed packages to support others to deliver training. See You Matter for more information.