Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Our Beliefs and Approach to Communication
At One Stop we believe in a 'Total Communication' approach when treating our clients. It is our role as speech-language pathologists to make sure that every child is able to adequately communicate their thoughts, feelings, wants and needs with others in a functional way. While many people communicate verbally, there are others who require some additional supports to help them share their intended message with others. This could be through gestures, signs, a speech-generating device and/or picture cards. A 'Total Communication' approach capitalizes on all of these different ways of communicating in order to best support the individual as they go about their day to day interactions with others.

What is an Augmentative & Alternative Communication System?
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is one of the tools used by those with limited, impacted and/or no verbal communication in order to enhance that person's overall ability to communicate. The type of AAC device implemented can be described as either 'aided' or 'unaided'. Unaided forms of communication only require the use of the individual's body with no outside tool(s) needed (e.g., gestures, manual signs, facial expressions, vocalizations, verbalizations, and body language). Aided communication systems require the implementation of a specific tool or device. These aided forms are often described as being either 'high-tech' or 'light-tech'. A light-tech device is considered an aided form of communication that is non-electronic (e.g., communication books/boards, picture cards/symbols, objects, writing, photographs). A high-tech device refers to an aided form of communication that is electronic (e.g., speech-generating device, single message devices, switches, recording device, tablets, computers).

Who Benefits from AAC?
AAC is often used for a wide range of speech and language impairments. These may include congenital disabilities like autism spectrum disorder (ASD), cerebral palsy, developmental disabilities, intellectual disability, developmental apraxia of speech and genetic disorders (ASHA 2019). Some individuals with acquired disabilities including cerebrovascular accidents, traumatic or acquired brain injuries, neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [ALS], supranuclear palsy, primary progressive aphasia, and apraxia), disability following surgeries (e.g., glossectomy, laryngectomy) and
temporary conditions (e.g., intubation) for patients in critical care settings may benefit as well (ASHA 2019). AAC can be a permanent addition to a person's communication or a temporary aid.

How Do I know which Speech-Generating Device is best?
Our trained team of speech-language pathologists conduct a comprehensive assessment that considers each child's current level of communicative function. This includes the child's strengths and weaknesses in several different areas including vision, hearing, fine/gross motor skills and verbal speech. Every child is a unique communicator and so every assessment is customized for that individual specifically.

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