AAC Quickstart

Tips to Learn To Use Your Child’s New AAC System

Vicki Clarke
June 15, 2023

Tips to Learn To Use Your Child’s New AAC System

Vicki Clarke
June 15, 2023

Giving Your Child the Gift of Communication

AAC is all about helping your child experience the power, fun and beauty of interacting with you!

Sometimes we get caught up in making kids say what we want them to say.  The whole reason you got an AAC system is to hear what they want to say.  Give them time to explore, make mistakes and play with their new words.

  1. Talk the Talk! Use your child’s AAC system to talk to him/her! Children learn by watching!
  2. Keep it out! Keep the AAC system close by at all times. Make a copy for different areas at home.
  3. Follow their lead! What’s s/he trying to say?  Show them the symbols to say what they want to say!

Where Do the Words Live?

Let’s move beyond the Home Page!

Most comprehensive AAC systems have highly organized language.  The core words all belong together. The word lists only have words, not phrases.  They are organized based on years of research, so that when a child is ready to move to a higher level, the words will be arranged in the same consistent way they have already learned.  As tempting as it is to put all the important words on the front page, STOP!  You will impede your child’s ability to progress in the future! 

“You MUST teach a child to turn pages or you might as well just give them one big board.”

If you don’t teach a child to “navigate” through pages of their book or device, they will only have the words that will fit on one page of their book or program.  If you teach them how to “find” the words, they can say anything they want to, with thousands and thousands of words, phrases and messages! 

No Hide and Seek Symbols!

Children learn where symbols “live” in their system and begin to use their AAC solution just like we just a keyboard.  We don’t look at the keys. Our fingers “remember” where the letters “live.”  If someone rearranged all the letters, image how hard it would be to type.  Children learn locations of symbols and their fingers “remember.”  If you move the symbols around, communication becomes HARD!

Communication not compliance

Communication is more than just learning to say words, or point to symbols.  Communication is about wanting to talk to someone, to share your thoughts, ask for something, give your opinion, complain, argue, to tell a story… It is a desire that comes from INSIDE us! Teach children that their AAC system is for saying what they want to say, not what they are told to say. Instead of saying “show me…” “say…” or “point to…” try saying, “What do you want?” “I like that (item)” “It looks like you want a BREAK.” Describe what is happening using the AAC system.  Ask open ended questions, “where do you want to play” instead of Yes/No questions like “Do you want to go outside?

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