When Does an AAC Learner Need More Than Modeling?

July 11, 2022 by - 3 Comments

When Does an AAC Learner Need More Than Modeling?
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As the philosophy of AAC immersion and the strategy of aided language input have gained acceptance, there is an emerging school of thought that these two things are sufficient for people with complex communication needs to learn to express themselves with AAC. While it is true that some individuals become proficient in their AAC and language use without explicit instruction, there is a large population of AAC learners who need additional support to achieve their potential and/or reach their goals.

In this post, we share some guiding questions to help these individuals and their teams determine whether formal instruction with well-chosen language goals and implementation of specific intervention strategies is needed.

  • Is the AAC user and/or other stakeholders comfortable with their rate of AAC and language learning?
  • Has the individual plateaued in their language growth?
  • Is there a gap between what they understand and what they can express?
  • How do the individual’s language skills align with their goals? Does the individual have goals (e.g., GED, high school diploma, post-secondary education, a particular kind of volunteer or paid work) that require more advanced conversational or written language skills?
  • Does the AAC user struggle with specific language activities that are important to them (e.g., explaining how to do something, leading a meeting participating in an interview, following a conversation)?
  • Is there likely to be a change in the resources available for AAC and language support (e.g., funding for SLP services may be unavailable after graduation, more time for AAC therapies after leaving school)? 
  • How does the individual feel about participating in therapy and instruction to further develop their AAC and language abilities?

Answers to these questions may help the individual and their team decide whether AAC immersion and aided language input are sufficient. If not, they can then consider adding focused intervention to accelerate their language and AAC learning and achieve their potential as communicators. 

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This post was written by Carole Zangari


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