Happy October! I know everyone is excited for Pumpkin Spice and spooky season but October also brings the opportunity for your friendly, chatty Speech Language Pathologist to share the excitement for communication because….October is Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Awareness Month!!! I am sharing an infographic with some basic information about AAC but I could not resist the opportunity to share a personal note as well.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a term that is used to describe various methods of communication that can help people who are unable to reliably use verbal speech to communicate. AAC can benefit a wide range of individuals, from a beginning communicator to a more sophisticated communicator.
AAC includes both unaided and aided systems. Unaided systems, like signing and gestures, do not require special materials or equipment. Aided systems use picture charts, books, iPads, or special communication devices. Most individuals who use AAC have a combination of no-tech, low-tech, and high-tech systems and strategies that are used at different times during the day. AAC methods vary and should be personalized to meet an individual patient’s needs.
As an SLP I have the privilege of working with clients with Speech Generating Devices on a daily basis. I have the joy of watching children prove cognitive abilities we didn’t know existed once the door of communication is opened to them. I have personally seen AAC open up the world to some of our early communicators.
I have worked with children that use AAC throughout my career and it used to be a bit intimidating to me. However, when I came into the outpatient world I met some professionals and attended some trainings that helped me build some competence and confidence in this area which ignited a small spark. Within my first couple of weeks at Blue Mountain Therapy, I was collaborating with our Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program on using a device with one of our shared clients. This was a game changer for me!
Having ABA in the same building and being able to collaborate on carryover of AAC outside of the Speech room has yielded progress and independence that I always knew was possible. This kind of collaboration and crossover between therapists is what makes Blue Mountain Therapy so special. It’s why we say “Patients First”. The spark I referenced previously has now ignited to a wildfire that is spreading through my fellow SLP and therapy colleagues here at BMT!