We often hear from parents that they don’t use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) at home because they know what their child is saying. Parents know their child best – there is no doubt! However, we can’t assume our AAC users don’t have more to say! Using AAC at home also gives our users more practice with their system, so they can use it more independently and with other people who are less familiar with them and might not know what they are saying. These tips are intended for individuals who are in still learning their AAC system and are not yet independent communicators. Below are our top 3 tips for using AAC at home:
1. Always Have It Available
Where is your AAC device at home?
It’s important to give your AAC user access to an AAC system all the time. That means that it’s charged, within reach or always in the same place.
2. Model, Model, Model
As we know, children learn how to speak by hearing their parents and other people around them speak all the time. With AAC learners, they also need to see what it looks like to communicate using their AAC systems in interactions. We can’t expect them to learn AAC without being shown how to use it.
You do this by pointing to words when you talk with your AAC user. This is called aided language stimulation. You don't need to model every single word you say. Instead, model the most important or core words. Do this at or slightly above your AAC user’s language level.
3. Find opportunities to use it in your day!
Once you feel comfortable modeling, find natural opportunities to use it in your daily routine! Your AAC user will learn their device faster, the more you build in opportunities for them to use it. And what better way to build in natural opportunities, than at home! Think about all the different words you could model!
The more opportunities they get to practice, the more likely they will generalize their language skills with different activities and people!
What or who you see
Whose turn it is
What you want or must do
What you are doing
Where to put things
you like / Don’t like
Feelings and emotions
Categories of words like animals, clothing, food, etc.
Action words like see, want, go, put, have, stop, play etc.
Location words like up, down, in, out, on, under, etc.
Description words like fast, slow, big, small, colours, etc.
If you want to continue (more/again) or not (all-done)
The opportunities are truly endless!
Down Syndrome Resource Foundation
1409 Sperling Avenue, Burnaby
British Columbia, Canada