Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Children who suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) tend to have various levels of speech problems. Speech therapists have ever since been trying to find out effective ways of encouraging communication among autistic children. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can be very helpful for autistics whose written and spoken skills are restricted.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication: AAC employs the use of any such method that helps people with restricted or impaired communication skills effectively convey their needs.
- AAC uses the codes and signs that the patient can choose to put forth his/her expression.
- The signs and codes can either be used singly or in a combination based upon the user’s needs.
- AAC uses both high level and low level technology and the patient’s may or may not require any aids.
Unaided AAC: Unaided AAC uses the help of facial expressions, gestures, sign languages and vocalizations to convey the message of a speech restricted person. The person would not require any external means in order to communicate.
- Body movements, body postures, facial expressions et. can be used as a form of communication (these gestures are natural in humans while communicating).
- Children and adults suffering from dysarthria and aphasia can use the Amer-Ind code for hand talking.
- Unaided AAC techniques function as an effective means of communication for both the user and the listener due to the easy understandability.
Aided AAC: Aided AAC requires the use of either a low-tech or high-tech device (could be electronic or non-electronic) to communicate needs, The devices can be any voice output devices, photos and pictures or hand drawings.
- Low-tech devices used for communication do not involve any electronic device. They can be any arcade game that allows placing letters or forming words or pointing out to symbols and drawings in books. Based on the user’s physical abilities, pointers like mouth sticks or body part movements can be useful in acceding the information.
- High-tech devices involve electronic gadgets that can help communication. Voice output devices and static visual devices that display symbols useful for communication. Based on the physical abilities, either fingers or compatible joysticks can be used to operate these devices.
Augmentative and alternative communication techniques do not impede in the development of speech in any way. This has been proved by a systematic review in the year 2008 and a descriptive review in the year 2009. In fact, speech production is bound to increase due to the reduction of stress which otherwise affects the communication part severely.