AAC Assessment

Simplifying AAC Decision-Making: A Collaborative Approach

Vicki Clarke
March 28, 2024

Simplifying AAC Decision-Making: A Collaborative Approach

Vicki Clarke
March 28, 2024

Recently, I had a meaningful interaction with a mother actively seeking the best Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) solution for her child. She was particularly interested in ensuring a thorough trial of AAC applications, having heard positive feedback about a specific one from other families. While evaluating the options, the importance of matching each application's strengths to her child's needs and communication goals was clear. Ultimately, we found a solution that satisfied both the professional assessment and the family's expectations.

The Challenge of Bias in AAC Selection

Selecting AAC solutions for minimally speaking individuals involves more than just technical considerations; it's a deeply human process. Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) often grapple with the availability heuristic bias—a tendency to favor options that are top of mind, whether due to recent exposure, past successes, or popular acclaim. This cognitive bias can narrow our exploration of AAC options, potentially overlooking better fits for an individual's unique needs.

Strategies for Unbiased Decision-Making

To counteract this bias, a systematic assessment is essential. By following a structured evaluation protocol, SLPs can base their recommendations on objective data rather than subjective impressions. This comprehensive approach encourages consideration of a wide range of AAC solutions, from simple picture boards to sophisticated devices.

Collaboration is also key. Involving a multidisciplinary team offers broader insights into the individual's needs, from motor skills to social integration. Including family members and caregivers in the decision-making process ensures that the AAC solution fits seamlessly into the individual's daily life. Listening to the experiences of AAC users themselves further enriches this process, aligning the solution with their communication goals and lifestyle.

Moving Forward with Confidence

To effectively navigate the complex landscape of AAC solutions, SLPs should:

  • Embrace Systematic Assessment: Commit to a structured evaluation that considers a broad spectrum of solutions.
  • Foster Collaboration: Work with professionals across disciplines and integrate family input to gain a holistic understanding of the individual's needs.
  • Reflect on Personal Bias: Continually evaluate decision-making processes to identify and address any biases.

By adopting these strategies, SLPs can make informed, unbiased decisions that truly enhance communication outcomes for individuals with minimal or no speech. This approach ensures that AAC solutions are selected based on their potential to meet the individual's needs and goals, rather than on familiarity or availability.

Check out our AAC Assessment tools on Teachers Pay Teachers!

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