Does AAC Really Work with Infants and Toddlers?
We are occasionally asked how old children have to be before you can begin teaching AAC. Our answer: There is no set minimum age. Nor is there any research evidence that one has to use an oral-language only approach for a set period of time before beginning AAC.
Today, we’re delighted to be able to share an article on this topic with you. This article describes a research review in which Branson and Demchak identified a dozen research studies looking specifically at the use of various AAC tools and strategies with infants and toddlers. Data from 190 children up to 36 months of age were examined. Of the 12 studies reviewed, 7 met criteria for having conclusive findings. In 97% of all cases, the children’s communication skills improved. Looking only at the 7 most rigorous studies is even more encouraging: All 135 babies/toddlers demonstrated improved communication skills following AAC intervention. The children had a variety of diagnoses, including Down Syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, multiple disabilities, agenesis of the corpus callosum, and other etiologies.
Among the researchers’ conclusions:
- Young children (age 3 and below) can successfully use both aided and unaided AAC.
- Communication partners were effective in creating communication opportunities for the learning and use of AAC in infants and toddlers.
- Using AAC with young children facilitates “early learning experiences that can promote the child’s further development.”
- “None of the studies reviewed supported the idea of a minimum age requirement for introducing AAC.” (p 180)
While further research is needed, Branson and Demchak assert that “both clinicians and parents should be aware that a variety of AAC methods can be effective with infants and toddlers and should be explored as early as possible.”
We hope you enjoy reading this systematic review and are grateful to Communication Matters, ISAAC, and the publisher of the AAC journal, Informa, for making this article available without cost. As of today, it is available to all. If you are interested in the topic, we suggest downloading the article and saving it to your computer as we don’t know how long it will be available.
Branson, D. & Demchak, M. (2009). The use of augmentative and alternative communication methods with infants and toddlers with disabilities: A research review. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 25 (4), 274-286. DOI: 10.3109/07434610903384529
Direct link to article: http://informahealthcare.com/doi/pdf/10.3109/07434610903384529
Difficulty in accessing the article? Go to this page first, then click on the article title. Direct link: http://www.communicationmatters.org.uk/aac-journal-free-articles
Filed under: PrAACtical Thinking
This post was written by Carole Zangari