*Did you know….
- that 1 in 10 Canadians has a speech, language or hearing problem
- an estimated 4% of the preschool population has a significant speech or language disorder
- 8% to 12% of school children have some form of speech or language impairment
- communication disorders in school-aged children are often misdiagnosed as learning disabilities or behavioural problems, and can be very difficult to treat in later years. Children with behavioural problems are ten times more likely than other children to have language disorders
- a child should use 200 or more words by the time they are 2-3 years old and by the age of 4 1/2 their vocabulary should consist of approximately 2000 words
- speech and language disorders are strongly related to failure in reading and writing
- drop our rates in students with communication disorders is 43% compared to 23% in non-impaired students
*The Ontario Association for Families of Children with Communication Disorders: http://www.oafccd.com/
What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and who uses it?
Augmentative, sometimes referred to as alternative communication (AAC) is a method of communication used by individuals with severe speech and language disabilities, those who have cerebral palsy, autism, ALS, suffered from a stroke, etc.
Some people have complex communication needs associated with a wide range of physical, sensory and environmental causes which restrict/limit their ability to participate independently in society. They and their communication partners may benefit from using AAC methods.
Having a severe speech problem affects many aspects of a person’s life. It may affect one’s ability to live in the community, direct one’s care, find employment, discuss sexual matters and report or prevent abuse
AAC is for those individuals who are unable to use verbal speech yet are cognitively able or when speech is extremely difficult to understand. These individuals will use gestures, communications boards, pictures, symbols, drawings or a combination of all of these. An individual would point to a single meaning picture – for instance if the individual was hungry, the picture may look like somebody eating. If the individual is also physically impaired, a head pointer may be worn to indicate the picture, which would relay the feeling.
The methods of AAC will vary and be personalized to meet the needs of the individual. Many forms of AAC will have an Assistive technology component, which will come in both high-tech and low-tech strategies. You don’t need special skills for understanding an individual who is using ACC, as the processes are self-explanatory.
AAC refers to ways other than speech that are used to communicate. Most people who use AAC have a variety of communication systems. Depending on their needs and skills they usually include a number of aided and unaided communication systems.
Unaided AAC systems might include:
Voice; nodding and shaking one’s head; facial expression; pointing or looking at desired objects; gestures; sign languages.
Aided AAC systems might include:
Communication displays (comprised of written words, letters or phrases, pictures or symbols); devices which speak or print out messages; call bells etc.
There are specialized AAC Services available to assist people in determining the AAC systems which best meet their needs and skills.
Here is a list of centres in Ontario for Augmentative Communication, http://www.accpc.ca/aboutaac-ontarioservices.htm
This information is for just that, information purposes only. If you have questions and want more information, consult your Speech and Augmentative Communication Therapists.