AAC in the Community

Embracing AAC at Any Age: Unlocking Independence and Opportunities

Vicki Clarke
January 10, 2024

Embracing AAC at Any Age: Unlocking Independence and Opportunities

Vicki Clarke
January 10, 2024

We all typically agree that interventions for people with developmental differences must start early to be effective. However, when it comes to communication, particularly for young adults with disabilities, it’s never too late to introduce or reintroduce tools like Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). The benefits  of effective communication extends far beyond the basic needs of the young child, paving the way for a lifetime of enriched relationships, career success, and active community participation.

Communication and Relationships:

For young adults, developing strong relationships with peers is vital. Communication is the cornerstone of meaningful and reciprocal relationships. By providing AAC tools, we empower individuals to express themselves clearly, share their thoughts, and engage in meaningful interactions. This autonomy in communication creates deeper connections and reduces the reliance on family members or assistants to interpret unintelligible speech, or worse yet, “speak for” the individual.

Opportunities and Career Success:

In the real world, past the high school doors, clear communication is synonymous with opportunity. For young adults with disabilities, AAC opens doors to career opportunities and achievement. It equips them with the ability to express their ideas, demonstrate their skills, and actively contribute to their workplace. AAC is not just a tool for conversation; it’s a bridge to professional success and fulfillment.

Active Community Participation:

Every individual has the right to be an influential member of their community. With AAC, young adults with disabilities can voice their opinions, participate in decision-making, and advocate for themselves and others. This level of engagement enriches the community and underscores the importance of diverse perspectives.

Independence and Autonomy:

One of the most significant impacts of AAC is the path it paves towards independence. Being able to communicate without intermediaries means individuals can make their own decisions, form their own relationships, and lead a life less dependent on others. This independence is not just a matter of convenience; it’s a fundamental right.

Final Thoughts:

While we often profess our belief in the capabilities of our older teens and young adults with disabilities, actions speak louder than words. Introducing or reintroducing AAC is a concrete step towards honoring that belief. It’s a commitment to empowering them with the ultimate tool for freedom and autonomy: the ability to communicate effectively. Let’s not delay in offering this key to independence; the potential outcomes for our students with disabilities are too significant to ignore.

Here's a light tech tool to get you started before you get a robust AAC system in place.

Designed with our teens in mind, these are communication boards designed around highly common activities: going to the bathroom, shopping, cooking and interacting in the classroom.  Similar to "Topic Pages" on our communication devices each topic has a page of messages (like "prestored messages") and a page of relevant words for the activity.  The purpose of these "Topic Pages" is to help your student participate and interact during typical activities. You can print a page front and back to use with individual activities or make a little activity based communication book of these popular topics!

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