AAC: Three Things Every Parent, SLP and Educator Needs to Know
This month I have been doing a lot of traveling and presenting on AAC and AT. During the process of preparing for these presentations, I was reminded of these important areas related to AAC. Here are three important things that every parent, SLP and educator that lives and works with individuals who have complex communication needs (CCN) should know.
1. AAC Competency Takes Time
The average 18-month-old child has been exposed to 4,380 hours of oral language development (at a rate of 8 hours a day from birth). A child who communicates using a communication system and receives speech and language therapy two times per week for 20-30 minutes a session will reach that same rate of language exposure in 84 years. (Korsten, Jane. From "Considering AAC - Speech and Language, Common Myths & Resources," on: http://bit.ly/nmpKhV).
My Thoughts: It's imperative that families, therapists and educators realize that AAC use takes time. This realization minimizes the setting of unrealistic expectations. With the proper instruction, practice, support, and encouragement individuals with CCN can progress from novel AAC users to advanced users.
2. AAC and Literacy
"Approximately 70 percent of individuals with severe communication impairments are significantly behind their peers in learning literacy." (Koopenhaver & Yoder, 1992). Literacy skills are more important than ever considering the connection to employment, socialization, leisure activities, and much more.
My Thoughts: The good news is that research has led to the development of evidence-based literacy programs for individuals with CCN. Given the proper instruction, individuals with CCN can and do learn literacy.
3. AAC and Employment
Only a small percentage of individuals who use AAC are employed (15 percent at the most). It's a well- documented fact that individuals with CCN have difficulty securing and maintaining employment due to many factors, including lack of literacy skills, little or no work preparation, skill limitations, and barriers such as attitudes, transportation, policies, and other factors.
My Thoughts: Since this impacts many, it's important to examine the success stories of individuals with CCN as their experiences may help others maintain and secure employment. I look forward to sharing some of them with you, as they are truly inspiring!
Be sure to read my upcoming blogs where I will be discussing creative solutions to each of these three things.