Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC)

How to teach AAC:
  • Step 1: Teach language (content)
  • Step 2: Teach literacy (form)
  • Step 3: Teach communication (use)

Why?

Language, Literacy, and Communication

Language - is the system of symbols for communicating

Literacy - is the ability to decode symbols to derive their meaning

Communication - is the activity of conveying information using a symbol system

Start early! If a child is not saying words by 12-18 months then it is time to use alternatives. If you need a place to begin, read the booklet Teaching Language, Literacy, and Communication.

More on the three components of communication:

An effective communicative act has three components; the content/meaning of the message, the form/symbol for the meaning, and the use/function or intent of the message. (Based on Bloom and Lahey, 1978)
content/form/use

Content is the meaning of the message. It is also called semantics.

Form is the structural aspect that includes attaching some symbol to the meaning. The symbol can include the spoken word, a picture, or a sign. The form/symbol is effective as long as the communicator and listener both agree on the meaning. Another part of form is the length and word order that includes syntax.

Use is the purpose, function, or reason for the communication. It includes pragmatics and social communication.

Bloom, L. and Lahey, M. (1978) Language Development and Language Disorders New York: Wiley.
Many parents and professionals are concerned about using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) with young children because they are worried that the child will not talk if given the alternate form to use. Research is showing the opposite is true; using sign language, pictures, or written words can help the child to develop language skills and may even promote verbalizations.