3 Responses to Programs that Make Kids ‘Prove Worthiness’ Prior to Providing Access to AAC
Like many of you, we continue to hear about programs that withhold AAC supports from children who are nonverbal or minimally verbal. Sometimes they point to the perceived lack of readiness that the child has for AAC, in general. Other times, they erect barriers, such as an artificial benchmark that insists that children start with no-tech AAC (e.g., communication boards, books, PECS) or low tech SGDs before ‘earning the right’ to sophisticated AAC options.
As yet another year comes to a close, it is hard to believe that there are still programs, administrators, or, worse yet, our SLP colleagues who think they are truly justified in limiting access to AAC. How can we move beyond tearing our hair out, drinking excessively, or ranting to our friends? Here are some ideas.
“Show me the evidence.” Ask for empirical support for the position that withholding access to AAC tools and strategies is more efficacious than providing it. Access to communication is a fundamental right. Anything to the contrary should be well-supported by a research base or the consensus of experts.
“We’ve evolved.” It’s fine to ‘party like it’s 1999,’ but let’s not practice SLP that way. (Actually, the ‘prove readiness’ notion was outdated even then.) The Candidacy Model gave way to the Participation Model a few decades ago (Beukelman & Mirenda, 1998). For over 20 years, the field has acknowledged that there are no behavioral or cognitive prerequisites for learning AAC.
“Where’s the logic?” No one can learn language without at least being exposed to it. If we want nonverbal or minimally verbal kids to learn to use AAC to express themselves, they need access to the tools and the intervention that will permit this. The longer we withhold access to these things, the longer these kids are prevented from learning language.
Some of our prAACtical friends are too young to remember the poem My Other Brother, Daryl. In some respects, we’ve come a long way since then. And in others, the battle still rages.
Beukelman, D., & Mirenda, P. (1998). Building opportunities and nonsymbolic communication. In D. Beukelman & P. Mirenda (Eds.), Augmentative and Alternative Communication (2nd Ed., pp. 265–294). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.
Filed under: PrAACtical Thinking
This post was written by Carole Zangari