In typical childhood language learning, children hear countless hours of language in their daily lives for a year before they say first words.
Children who use an AAC system to communicate must learn spoken languages (for example English, Spanish, Somali) to understand what is said to them. They also have to learn a different, second language in the AAC system to learn to express their thoughts to others.
What is aided language input?
Aided language input is when others show a child how to use words in their AAC system while speaking to the child. Children can then see how the words spoken to them are found in their AAC system. Over time, they will start to use those words in their AAC system. A growing body of research indicates aided language input is effective at teaching children to use their AAC system to express themselves. It is a strategy that you can use to help teach your child the skills they need to interact fully with the world around them!
Who should do aided language input?
A speech-language pathologist can teach you or others how to use this strategy in treatment sessions. The most progress is seen when aided language input can be done in the child’s home and community, so it is important to use this strategy as broadly as possible. This will help your child learn the skills needed to communicate where it matters most.
What should I do to help?
Work with your speech-language pathologist to learn how to use aided language input. Use this strategy to teach your child new words and sentences throughout your day. Share what you learn with other important people in your child’s life.
What does this look like?
Ideally, a communication partner will integrate the AAC into most activities throughout your child’s day. For example, when going to the park, you could use the AAC system to model “go” and “park” to show how to say on the AAC system what you are saying verbally. While the child is getting dressed, the communication partner could model labeling the names of the clothing they are putting on and labeling the colors of the clothing with the AAC system. When watching a movie, the communication partner can use the AAC system to comment on whether they like it. The communication partner can also model saying “hi” to friends in the classroom when arriving at school.