DISCOVER AAC AND TRAIN AS A PROFESSIONAL
WHAT IS ACC?
Augmentative and Alternative Communication is a set of strategies and tools used by people with complex communication needs to improve their daily lives.
It is important to understand that:
- Communication occurs or can occur, in a variety of ways. When someone has complex needs or their speech is difficult to understand, it is crucial that they have access to a personalised, suitable and well-designed communication system that can be used wherever and with whomever. This set of strategies and technology is referred to as an individual’s AAC System.
- The individual employs or should employ, a variety of tools and strategies to adjust to and satisfy their particular situation. This may include language, vocalisation, voice generators, computers, tablets, smartphones, pen and paper, communication books, boards, sign language, gestures, facial expressions, and eye gaze, among others.
- AAC strategies can help an individual take an active part in roles such as interpersonal interaction, learning, education, social activities, employment, volunteering or care.
Communication is effective when the intention and meaning of the transmitted message is understood by another person or people. The way in which it is emitted is not as important as being understood. Putting it another way: the strategy and technology used is the way it is done, and understanding is the final result. Strategy and technology are not as important, but they are essential in achieving the goal.
METHODOLOGY AND SERVICE
Attitudes and skills needed to be a good AAC professional.
When carrying out the following strategies it is convenient to frequently speak to the user. Without bombarding them, try sharing impressions, interpreting their expressions, looking at what they look at and telling them what you see. And, above all, talking about what they seem interested in.
- Pay attention to any kind of communicative intention. Agitation, change in muscle tone, facial expression or the emission of sounds, among other things, must be interpreted as signs of communication. Therefore, you should let them know that you have understood and act accordingly.
- The child must be correctly positioned.
- Adapt your language to theirs, without resorting to absurdities.
- Clearly pronounce the words you want them to learn to use.
- Let them experiment in order to understand and then communicate.
- You should usually wait for them to take the initiative.
- Start generating a fixed gesture or sound strategy to indicate yes or no. It is important that the child can do it without much complexity.
- Start pointing out what they want. Pointing behaviour is fundamental.
- Organise the environment in such a way as to multiply the moments or situations in which the child feels motivated to communicate.
For example: place toys inaccessibly but visibly; increase choice as much as possible (offer two types of snacks, two toys, two places, etc.).
- Use a pictogram for the environment.
TIPS FOR AAC THERAPY
- Talk to someone else with just one communicator.
- Design the activity with a communication script.
- Prepare the communicator beforehand based on the activity or environment.
- Model the activity.
- All strategies are possible if you organise the communicator to give a voice to the game.
- Use soap bubbles, Play-Doh, photographs, stories or playing hide-and-seek; these are always successful strategies.
HOW TO CREATE A SUCCESSFUL AAC THERAPY SESSION
- Using suitable and adapted vocabulary.
- Offering communication opportunities in all environments.
- Providing the best AAC tools.
- Adapting the methodology to the user.
- Having the family participate (most communication opportunities arise within the family environment).
- The communicator must always accompany the user, have a voice output and be used throughout the environment to support learning.