Augmentative & Alternative Communication: What is it? Why use it? When to use it?

What is AAC? AAC stands for augmentative alternative communication. An AAC can help children and adults with express their wants and needs when they can’t use their voice alone.

Types of AAC

AAC can be used with an unaided system or an aided system.

Unaided AAC:

Only uses the speaker’s body to help them speak with signs, gestures, or body language.

Aided AAC:

Requires the use of something supplemental to the speaker’s body like a pen and paper, picture books, communication boards, or an electronic speech-generating device that can produce simple words up to full sentences.

Who could benefit from AAC?

1. Children that have some verbal language or are working towards using spoken language.

2. Children that are not using words or their voice to speak.

3. Children and adults with apraxia, autism, or cerebral palsy.

4. Children and adults that have had a stroke, brain injury or degenerative disease that affects the use of their voice.

5. Children that have begun showing tantrum-like behaviors because they cannot tell you what they want and what they need.


What does AAC support and services look like at school?

LLA Therapy provides specialized AAC support to schools. It takes careful consideration, specialization, and time on behalf of an SLP to select, maintain, and provide treatment on a device for a student in need. Our AAC specialists work with teachers, students, and families handling everything from selecting, programming, training, and implementation of strategies for device use.

Are you a school interested in AAC services for your students and teachers? Click here to request more information. 


When considering AAC…

1. Talk to your SLP about different options for the use of AAC and if your child would be a good candidate.

2. Selecting an AAC device is a team approach and should involve both the family and the SLP.

3. Consider trying out a few different options to see which one works best for you and your child with the help of your SLP.


About the Author

Katie Zimmer

Hello there :) My name is Katie Zimmer and I am a speech therapist at the lovely LLA Therapy! I am a clinic-based therapist with a love of music, messy foods, and silly games. At LLA, I love to spend time helping children and their families with speech and language delay, apraxia, motor planning delays and disorders, and picky eaters! I enjoy using PROMPT therapy strategies, play-based language, speech, and feeding tactics, and other errorless learning methods. I love working with my families and seeing the excitement of learning new things every day! Let me help you set your kiddos up for success today!

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