Fort Myers speech therapists AAC

Unlocking Communication: How Fort Myers Speech Therapists Use AAC for Kids

As Fort Myers speech therapists, teaching kids to communicate as effectively as possible is always are top goal. How we approach that task varies depending on the unique needs, interests, and abilities of each child.

Increasingly, we’re using AAC as a means to teach and expand meaningful speech & language skills for our patients. AAC stands for augmentative & alternative communication. “Augmentative” technologies can be used to augment or add to one’s speech and language skills. “Alternative” technologies can be used in place of speech and language.

These can be unaided (gestures, facial expressions, etc.), or aided modes (communication boards, computers, handheld devices, tablets, or synthetically-produced speech). Our Fort Myers speech therapists use both, though generally when we’re recommending AAC for our pediatric patients, we’re referring to aided forms of it.

Why AAC Use is Expanding

Part of the reason more and more Fort Myers speech therapists offering AAC is that advancing technology has made these tools both more effective and more widely accessible to pediatric patients and their families.

Beyond that, there are reams of research backing up the effectiveness of these tools when used with kids who have speech and language disorders, delays, and deficits.

Some parents express concerns that once we introduce AAC – even low-tech AAC solutions – their child may develop an overreliance on these tools.

On the contrary, AAC actually supports verbal speech and language development. Some people do use AAC their whole life. However, these are almost always individuals with severe, complex speech and language difficulties (approximately 1.3% of the U.S. population).

Many more kids may only need AAC for a few months or years, and then ultimately rely on it less and less. Studies show that AAC can reduce frustration, set the foundation for improved communication skills, and help facilitate faster progress with reading and literacy. They are a means to bridge the communication gap and help kids unlock their potential.

Early intervention with Fort Myers speech therapists who can work with your child 1:1, recommend the right AAC device for their unique needs, and teach them and you how use it most effectively can go a long way toward improving both short- and long-term clinical outcomes.

Fort Myers Speech Therapists on Key Strategies for Effective AAC Use

Augmentative and alternative communication devices can be empowering tools for children with communication difficulties, allowing them to express themselves, engage with others, and participate more fully in daily activities.

Here’s how we implement effective use of AAC devices for our young patients:

Individualized assessment and selection.

We begin with a comprehensive assessment of the child’s communication abilities, preferences, and needs. We consider factors like motor skills, cognitive abilities, sensory preferences, and communication goals. This allows us to identify the best AAC device for that particular child.

Customization and personalization.

We can customize various AAC devices to match that child’s language and communication preferences, as well as the setting where they’re most likely to use it. We can tailor the vocabulary, symbols, and layout to reflect the child’s daily routine, ensuring that we’re maximizing both relevance and meaningfulness in its everyday use.

Modeling and instruction.

We can model AAC device use consistently and explicitly, helping both the child and their caregivers learn how to effectively navigate the device, select symbols, and form messages. We provided guided instruction as well as opportunities to practice in various contexts, which not only reinforces the skills they’re learning, it promotes independence.

Integration in daily activities.

Our team can help facilitate use of the AAC device into the child’s regular daily routines, interactions, and activities across different environments – wherever it’s going to be most useful.

Promotion of language development.

We encourage kids to use their AAC device to explore new words, concepts, sentence structures, and communication purposes. This sets the stage for language expansion, correct grammar, and more complete exchanges of communication.

Regular evaluation and monitoring.

AAC is not a “set-it-and-forget-it” type of tech. Our Fort Myers speech therapists are going to be regularly assessing and monitoring the child’s use of the AAC device. We’re going to carefully note their progress, identify areas of improvement, and make any necessary adjustments to help them reach their short- and long-term communication goals.

Interested in AAC? Our Fort Myers Speech Therapists Offer Evaluations – Even if You Aren’t Receiving Treatment With Us

Reach out to our Speech Therapy Department at FOCUS Therapy to learn more about how we can help.

FOCUS offers pediatric speech therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), ASHA

More Blog Entries:

What Qualifies a Child for Speech Therapy in Fort Myers? April 4, 2024, Fort Myers Speech Therapy Blog

Comments are closed.