AAC Implementation

Breaking Through the Time Barrier in AAC Implementation: Insights from Mirenda and Beukelman's Participation Model

Vicki Clarke
March 20, 2024

Breaking Through the Time Barrier in AAC Implementation: Insights from Mirenda and Beukelman's Participation Model

Vicki Clarke
March 20, 2024

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) opens up worlds of possibilities for individuals with communication impairments. Yet, the journey to effectively implement AAC can often seem daunting, primarily due to perceived time barriers. Educators, therapists, and families may worry that integrating AAC requires a significant time investment, a resource that is always in short supply. However, by understanding and applying principles from Mirenda and Beukelman’s participation model, we can navigate these challenges more effectively, ensuring that AAC users can engage meaningfully in all aspects of life. This post explores strategies to combat the time barrier perception in AAC implementation, inspired by Mirenda and Beukelman's insights.

Understanding the Participation Model

Mirenda and Beukelman’s participation model emphasizes the importance of AAC users participating fully in their social, educational, and vocational environments. The model suggests focusing on enhancing participation across different settings as the primary goal of AAC intervention. This approach shifts the focus from solely acquiring language skills to using AAC tools and strategies to engage in meaningful interactions and activities.

Overcoming the Time Barrier: Strategies and Insights

1. Start with Participation Goals:

Begin by identifying specific participation goals for the AAC user in various contexts, such as classroom discussions, social interactions, and community involvement. This goal-oriented approach ensures that efforts are targeted and meaningful, reducing the time spent on less impactful activities.

2. Integrate AAC into Daily Routines:

Instead of viewing AAC practice as an additional task that requires extra time, integrate AAC use into everyday activities and routines. This not only maximizes practice opportunities without adding time but also promotes functional communication in natural contexts.

3. Utilize Team Collaboration:

Implementing AAC effectively is a team effort. Collaboration among AAC users, family members, educators, and therapists can distribute the workload, share insights, and reinforce AAC use across different environments, making the process more efficient.

4. Leverage Technology and Resources:

Technology advancements have made AAC devices and apps more intuitive and easier to customize. Utilizing these technologies can save time in the implementation process. Additionally, drawing on existing resources, such as pre-made communication boards or templates, can expedite AAC customization.

5. Embrace a Flexible Mindset:

Flexibility in approaches to AAC implementation is crucial. Recognize that strategies may need to be adjusted based on the AAC user's changing needs and contexts. A flexible mindset helps in finding practical solutions that can be implemented more quickly.

6. Prioritize Training and Support

Investing time in training for AAC users, their families, and support teams can seem time-consuming initially but pays off by making AAC use more effective and efficient in the long run. Adequate support and training ensure that everyone is equipped to facilitate AAC use, reducing barriers to participation.

Final Thoughts

The perceived time barrier to AAC implementation can be overwhelming, but it shouldn't deter us from pursuing the goal of full participation for AAC users. By applying principles from Mirenda and Beukelman’s participation model and embracing practical strategies, we can streamline the AAC implementation process. Remember, the essence of AAC is to enhance communication and participation in life's activities. With a focused, collaborative, and flexible approach, we can make significant strides in overcoming time barriers, enabling AAC users to achieve their full potential.

From the experts:

Beukelman, D. R., & Mirenda, P. (2013). Augmentative & Alternative Communication: Supporting Children and Adults with Complex Communication Needs (4th ed.). Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

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