Key Points

  • Augmentative communication assists and supports speech.
  • Alternative commuication often replaces speech.

Gillette can help you discover new ways to communicate with augmentative or alternative communication (AAC).

AAC can be any form of communication that improves or is used along with speech and writing.

  • Augmentative communication assists and supports speech.
  • Alternative communication often replaces speech.

AAC ranges from the use of gestures or facial expressions to the use of a picture board or a speech-generating device.

AAC Strategies and Systems

AAC methods include:

  • Manual communication systems, such as word boards or object boards, made up of letters, words, and/or pictures and symbols.
  • Aided language stimulation strategies where one person models and teaches symbols to another person by speaking and selecting vocabulary on an AAC system.
  • Voice output communication systems or speech-generating devices.

For Anyone, At Any Age

Anyone who has trouble speaking or communicating can benefit from AAC. Young children who are struggling with speech might have a delay in expressive language development. AAC gives them the tools they need to continue building language skills while we work on their speech disability.

AAC systems also can meet the communication needs of adults with ongoing disabilities or those who have speech or language difficulties due to a brain injury, stroke, or disability later in life.

Making Your Appointment

You need an order from your health care provider before you can make an appointment for an AAC evaluation. You or your health care provider needs to send the order to Patient Appointments before we can schedule your appointment.

We will send you a questionnaire to fill out and return to us. Your responses help us structure your evaluation session.

Your AAC Evaluation

At this appointment we will gather information about your AAC needs. A speech and language pathologist will always be involved in your appointments to assess your speech, language, and communication skills. The assessment will help us decide how we can help you meet your communication needs.

The AAC evaluation process also might include other professionals, such as:

  • An occupational therapist who looks at your physical needs and skills in relation to how they affect your use of a communication system. The therapist might look at your motor skills, visual needs, wheelchair positioning and positioning of equipment, such as communication devices and/or switches.
  • A seating specialist who assists with equipment-related decisions, such as mounting equipment, making seating adjustments and making other adaptations to wheelchairs.

Our goal is to suggest a communication system that can be easily integrated into your life, including your school, work and community settings.

We encourage parents and caregivers to participate in the evaluation process. Families and others, such as teachers or group-home staff, can provide useful information about your communication needs and suggest methods which have been effective.

After Your Evaluation

Addressing your communication needs can be an ongoing process because your skills are likely to change over time.

After your evaluation we will work with you to develop a plan and we might suggest you:

  • Use an augmentative communication system
  • Replace or update your current communication system
  • Attend speech and/or occupational therapy sessions
  • Take part in speech therapy to further assess or develop your skills before we recommend specific AAC options
  • Try different communication systems during your therapy sessions

We often recommend you go to therapy sessions for several weeks to try different AAC options. These sessions help us decide what option is the best fit for you.

We also might suggest that you work with a variety of other services and organizations that can help incorporate augmentative and alternative communication methods into your lifestyle. These might include:

  • Computer access specialists
  • Seating specialists
  • Your school
  • Your group home
  • Your day program

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your health care providers. If you have any questions, talk with your doctor or others on your health care team.