AAC Myth Busters

AAC Myth Busters: Dispelling Common Misconceptions to Empower Communication

Navigating the world of speech and communication can be a complex journey, especially when it involves our children. One area that often comes wrapped in myths and misconceptions is Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). It’s time to bust three common myths and shed light on how AAC can be a powerful tool in supporting and enhancing communication, particularly for children facing challenges in this area.

Myth 1: AAC Prevents Spoken Communication

Contrary to the belief that using AAC will stop or prevent a child from speaking, research robustly suggests that AAC actually supports or increases spoken communication. Studies delving into AAC’s impact have consistently found that it enhances, rather than inhibits, a child’s speech development. Far from acting as a barrier, AAC serves as an additional resource in the communication toolbox, complementing natural speech. In our daily lives, we seamlessly blend multiple forms of AAC – such as texting, pointing, or gesturing – with spoken language. Therefore, think of an AAC device or tool not as a replacement for speech but as an extra avenue to express thoughts and needs.

Myth 2: AAC is Only a ‘Last Resort’

The notion that AAC should only be considered as a last resort, or solely for children who do not speak, is a significant misunderstanding. AAC is beneficial for children across various ages and stages of language development, regardless of their ability to speak. Early introduction of AAC – even as young as 12-24 months – can be immensely advantageous. For children experiencing communication frustrations, which might lead to ‘big behaviours’, AAC offers a way to convey their needs and desires effectively. Simple tools like a communication board with visuals for meal choices can profoundly reduce a young child’s communication-related stress.

Myth 3: AAC is Exclusively for Non-Speakers

The long-held view that AAC is only for non-speakers, or those whose speech is difficult to understand, is outdated. Emerging evidence, coupled with insights from adults with lived experiences, especially Autistic advocates, illustrates that speech abilities can vary significantly. For example, an Autistic child might be able to speak comfortably at home but struggle in the overwhelming environment of a school. Factors such as sensory overload, anxiety, or selective mutism can impede their access to spoken language. Because of this, it is crucial for children with communication difficulties, particularly neurodivergent children, to have access to AAC. This could range from a simple visual cue on a school desk requesting a break to using an app on an iPad or tablet to communicate their needs.

AAC opens doors to expressive and receptive communication for many children, offering them a ‘voice’ when traditional speech might not suffice. It’s a tool that adapts to the child’s needs, providing them with the ability to connect, express, and flourish in their communication journey.

As we embrace these truths about AAC, we are reminded that it is not just about technology; it’s about opening doors to communication, self-expression, and confidence. It’s about giving children the tools they need to express themselves, connect with others, and thrive in their environments.

For more information on AAC and how it could support your child on their communication journey, check out the Liberator Blog, or talk with one of our Speech Pathologists. Our Speech Pathologists are adept at assessing and providing services using a variety of AAC devices and methods. We work closely with families to find the most effective means of communication for each child, ensuring the AAC journey is a positive and enriching experience.

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