Some children have difficulty making the movements necessary to use an AAC system, like reaching and pointing. In these cases, children may benefit from an eye-gaze system where they can use their eyes to activate words on the AAC device to communicate.
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
Most children are able to communicate verbally, using words and sentences to express themselves. But talking is difficult for some children and they cannot communicate their wants, needs, feelings, and ideas. Children with these complex communication disorders need another way to communicate. We call this augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).
Our team has specialized training in working with children with complex communication disorders who need AAC to communicate effectively every day. We work with many different types of AAC systems, including pictures, communication boards, or speech-generating devices. Our training and experience allows us to choose the system that is the best fit for your child.
When you bring your child to Cook Children's speech therapy, you're choosing a team that uses the most up-to-date evidence-based treatment for working with children with complex communication needs. Our team helps you choose the most appropriate AAC system for your child and teaches you and your child how to use the AAC system.
Care that's family centered
We know that having a child with complex communication needs affects the whole family. Our speech-language pathologists will work with you and your child to develop a plan to meet your goals, while keeping your family's needs in mind. We also include your family in every part of your child's therapy so you know how to help your child meet their goals.
Common diagnoses that may benefit from AAC
- Cerebral Palsy
- Down syndrome
- Any condition that impacts verbal communication
What to expect
At Cook Children's we know that therapy is a big commitment for you and your family. That is why we are committed to getting your child and family back to everyday life as quickly as possible.
Hands-on approach. Our goal at Cook Children's is to teach you and your family how to use therapy techniques to help your child meet their goals. Our speech-language pathologists will get you and other caregivers involved in each session so you can learn how to help your child.
Episodic care. From the very beginning, we will work with you to develop a treatment plan that best fits the needs of your child and family. As your child's needs change, our therapists will adjust the treatment plan.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. There is no evidence that using AAC prevents children from using verbal communication. Rather, research and our clinical practice shows that using AAC may help improve a child's verbal communication.
Research and clinical practice shows that children can start using AAC younger than 3 years old.
Yes. Impaired cognition does not mean a child cannot learn to communicate.
Using AAC can help children develop:
- Functional communication skills
- Cognitive skills
- Literacy skills
- Social communication skills
We provide speech therapy for AAC at our outpatient clinics. Therapy sessions are usually once a week or every other week, for an hour or less. Some insurances may help cover the cost.
If your child is unable to come into the clinic for treatment, it might be an option to have speech therapy provided through teletherapy. These sessions are usually once every 1-2 weeks, for an hour or less. It is important to note that evaluations and re-evaluations can't be completed through teletherapy. Your insurance may or may not cover teletherapy services.
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