The Role of Perception in AAC

May 16, 2022 by - 2 Comments

The Role of Perception in AAC
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The case history for Aziz described him as ‘non-communicative.’ On Mia’s intake form, it says that she is ‘unable to be tested.’ One of  Antwon’s therapists reported that he is ‘not motivated to communicate.’

Experienced, caring professionals said or wrote each one of these things. And while there may be a kernel of truth in some of their perceptions, it’s also likely that these statements don’t tell the full story and fail to accurately capture the student’s capabilities.

How can we influence professionals who see limitations more clearly than abilities and potential? One approach is to do things that alter their perceptions of people with complex communication needs.

Perception matters a great deal. Why? Because the ways in which we perceive people set off a whole chain of events.

– The way that we perceive someone shapes the expectations that we have for them

– The expectations we have for someone drive the opportunities that we provide to them.

– The opportunities that we offer them, fuel their learning and achievement of new skills.

– Their levels of growth and achievement, in turn, influence how we perceive them.

Perception is the starting point of a cycle that can determine the trajectory of learning, well-being, and self-concept.

The Role of Perception in AAC


As Proust told us, “The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Stay tuned for the next post on this topic when we’ll explore how we can help others see ability and potential before challenges and limitations.

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This post was written by Carole Zangari


  • Marlene Cummings says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts again on what we call “Dr. Zargari’s perception wheel”. We share this in our Mindset session in our foundational training series.

    The concept is incredibly powerful and is often more impactful than some of the common statements like presuming competence.

    • Carole Zangari says:

      Thanks for that kind comment, Marlene. It’s something I think about quite often. Changing how people perceive those who use AAC can be one of the most powerful things we do for and with them.

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