Getting Started with AAC Device at Home
Your SLP has recommended Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for your child. But you are unsure of how to kickstart the AAC journey. Understanding how to use an AAC device might seem like an uphill task at the beginning. Many parents new to AAC may feel lost. However, as avid users of AAC will tell you, with persistence, you can master vital AAC strategies in no time.
Studies have suggested that providing AAC earlier during the intervention can help with the spontaneous speech abilities of children. So, avoid delay in introducing AAC to your child. To help you get a headstart in your AAC journey, here are some tried and tested practices to successfully implement AAC at home.
Many parents may have unrealistic ideas of how AAC works and the potential timeline of results. As effective as AAC is, it is far from being a magical potion that gives instant results. Therefore, it is important to understand that you need to be patient to see success with AAC.
Choose the best AAC App
This is one of the most important steps in AAC implementation. Assess the suitability of the app according to your child’s current language, comprehension, cognitive, and physical abilities. Your child’s SLP can provide valuable inputs to help you choose the right app.
Certain apps have advanced features with vocabulary that grows with your child. Easy personalization is also an important aspect to look out for. You don’t want to spend hours trying to customize the app for your child. Avaz AAC app has a remote feature which is particularly helpful because an SLP can guide your child even if they are not physically present with the child.
Talk to the Child About How an AAC Device Can Help
Be it getting a dog for the family or buying a new car, parents typically discuss major decisions with children so they are not caught unawares. Similarly, talk to your child about what AAC is. Tell them how AAC can help with social interactions. This will prepare the child for the introduction to the AAC system.
Embrace AAC as a Family
All children learn language from hearing people around them talk. The more they listen to words and are encouraged to speak (mistakes and all!), the more likely they are to pick up the vocabulary and other language skills. The same holds true for children with autism and other learning disabilities.
Get together as a family and get educated about the AAC system. Your ease with the system and frequency of usage encourages the child to get familiar with AAC. Using AAC as a family helps the child readily express their views and ideas.
Get Help from Experts and AAC Users
Having a groundbreaking app is no use if you don’t know how to use it. Parent training is important to ensure optimal use of AAC. AAC concepts and strategies may seem foreign to many parents new to AAC. SLPs can offer guidance on how to use an AAC system.
Unfortunately, SLPs may not be always available. In some countries, parents may not have access to SLPs. It is to address this issue that Avaz AAC App has a training module integrated into its app. The module incorporates best practices recommended by AAC experts and gives detailed instructions on how to use the app. If you need additional help, reach out to the community. Many AAC parents will be more than glad to be of help. Many AAC app makers are also happy to support you through the learning process.
Modelling is the best way to get your child to use AAC. While interacting with the child, model core words as often as possible. Core words are high-frequency words that we use in about 85% of our communication. The best AAC device is the one with apps designed to provide easy access to the core words.
With consistent modelling, the child will begin to follow your lead and start using the AAC system. Continue to model even after the child gets comfortable with AAC. Adding more words regularly will strengthen the child’s vocabulary.
Create Opportunities to Use AAC
Seek out opportunities where you can use AAC. Whether it is discussing breakfast or talking about a picnic plan, there are so many instances throughout the day where you can use AAC. Using AAC in different settings lets the child know that AAC can help communication in many environments.
If your child is into music, talk about the current chart-topper. Talk about the latest superhero movie coming up if your child is a comics fan. Talking about the child’s favourite topics is a great way to get your child to use the AAC system.
Ensure Consistent Availability of Device
Make sure the AAC device is charged and always available for use. Carry the device wherever you can. That way, the child’s use of AAC is not restricted to home or school. You can give them picture boards or other forms of low-tech AAC when in places like swimming pools where high tech AAC cannot be used. Avaz AAC app has a PDF option where you can print the child’s vocabulary at the tap of a button and use it in such places.
If you are thinking of purchasing an AAC app, do not hesitate. AAC is easy to use. And there is enough support available on AAC for you to get started easily and handhold you through the journey. Empower your child by giving them the gift of communication through AAC.
Do you have any ideas about getting started with a AAC device at home? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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