PrAACtical Thinking The ‘Real’ Pre-requisites to AAC Device Use

Published on February 25th, 2013 | by Carole Zangari

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The ‘Real’ Pre-requisites to AAC Device Use

How long did you practice your driving skills before you took your driver’s license road test? A week? A month? A couple of months?

We love videos like this one that show kids in the process of developing skills with technology. It’s not usually a quick and easy process, but if we prepare ourselves and the families with whom we work for the process, good things will happen.

Little Eva and her family remind us that kids don’t have to ‘prove’ readiness for high tech AAC. They deserve opportunities to use these tools to learn, develop, and grow. The next time that people tell you that one of your clients with complex communication needs ‘isn’t ready’ for AAC technology, you might want to ask them how things might have gone if they had taken the road test a few days after their first time behind the wheel. We needed practice. A lot of it. And we needed a safe, reassuring environment in which to learn the skills needed to drive. It didn’t ‘just happen’ for us, and it doesn’t ‘just happen’ for our kids learning to communicate with SGDs.

The ‘real’ pre-requisites to AAC skills aren’t measures of cognition, attention, language, or behavior.

Access to appropriate tools + good intervention + frequent opportunities for practice = real learning. Isn’t this just common sense? We’re not saying that high tech AAC devices or apps are the right answer for everyone. Certainly not. But everyone deserves a fair chance to develop their driving skills and plenty of time behind the wheel before that decision is made. Let’s not yank the keys before we’ve given them that fair chance.

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About the Author

Carole Zangari

Carole Zangari has been involved in the practice and teaching of AAC for over 20 years. She is a professor of speech-language pathology and has been fortunate to have been able to introduce many children and adults to the world of AAC. "Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." Theodore Roosevelt

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