One of the most critical skills that we acquire during early childhood development is communication. However, no two people have the same style of communicating with the world around them, and we all learn at a different pace. If your child experiences delays in speech and language or has a medical condition that impacts their ability to communicate, they may benefit from the use of an aided Augmentative and Alternative Communication device (AAC Devices).
What is an AAC?
An aided AAC is a tool that allows children to communicate with other people without using verbal communication. These devices are extremely helpful in a therapeutic preschool setting, which has many opportunities for interactions, as well as at home. The use of an AAC can open new doors for children, as these devices can give a voice to children who could not previously express themselves before.
What does an AAC look like?
An aided AAC can be as simple as using a whiteboard and dry-erase markers. However, due to our advancements in technology, many aided AAC devices are electronic devices, which have a great range of functionality. Some children may use an aided AAC device as a short-term solution while they are working to develop verbal communication skills, while others may use the device as a more long-term solution (e.g. if they have a medical condition that impacts their speech and language).
There are many AAC devices on the market, as well as a variety of iPad applications (apps) that provide communication tools for children who are not able to verbally express their feelings, thoughts, wants, and needs to others. These tools can be incredible gifts for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental delays who experience challenges with expressive communication skills.
One of the best features of AAC is that the tools can be customized to fit the unique abilities and needs of each child. If a child with autism or developmental delays and has a limited vocabulary, their AAC can be tailored to include simple images, as opposed to text. For instance, if a child needs to communicate that they are thirsty, they can tap an icon that shows a glass of water. Some devices may have an audio component that speaks and says “I’m thirsty.”
Examples of iPad apps for AAC
Here are some examples of AAC apps for iPads that might be helpful for children in a therapeutic preschool program. These apps may also be extremely beneficial to use at home, so that children can gain more practice with the tools.
Do you think an AAC device could help your child become a more effective communicator in their therapeutic preschool program? It may be helpful to consult their speech-language pathologist or therapeutic preschool instructors to see if this is a solution that they would recommend for your child.