Augmentative and Alternative Communication
We all use gestures, facial expressions and our eyes to convey a message. These are nothing but means of alternative communication without the use of oral speech. People who suffer from severe speech disabilities or those who are incapable of producing speech can use these alternative forms of communication in order to communicate.
Alternative Communication: These non-oral methods of communication can be used to effectively convey ideas, needs, thoughts and wants.
People who lack the ability to produce normal speech due to a neurological disorder or a stroke or an injury to the brain can be taught these techniques, so that their needs and wants are understood. In a way, these alternative techniques would replace their oral speaking skills.
Remember, that these are only a means of communication and not an alternative to speech. People who are able to produce even the slightest speech should be encouraged and allowed to do so along with using these augmentative tactics.
Aided and Non-Aided Techniques: Aided techniques would make use of external devices like picture and visual boards, books and writing instruments, devices that produce voice and any other electronic device that assists in the person’s communication. Unaided forms would only include the natural limbs and expressions of the person. For instance, gestures, signs or sign language and body language.
Seeing a speech language pathologist for this purpose can really benefit the cause. A speech language pathologist would keep in mind the limitations and the strengths of the individual and impart the necessary skills as required.
Like, people who are still capable of producing some speech would be taught how to increase their speech production along with being taught to use alternative forms of communication like a sign language or using an electronic aid.
Similarly, those who cannot produce any more speech would be taught sign language in a more detailed way. Along with this, they are also made aware of the electronic instruments like voice producers, symbols or letter producers et. in order to communicate.
Alternative communication techniques can prove to be really beneficial to both the individual and his/her parents or relatives. They provide a chance to converse more efficiently.