Augmentative and Alternative Communication is designed to aid and enhance an individual’s ability to express themselves. In some cases this may supplement existing speech, and in other cases replace it altogether.
AAC can help in the following ways:
Provide access to functional communication for individuals who did not experience typical language development in childhood;
Serve as a communicative prosthetic for those who have developmental language skills but are unable to speak due to motor disorders;
Serve as a gateway to literacy for individuals transitioning from icon-based languages to written language;
Provide visual prompting for those who are unable to access their full communicative abilities, such as individuals with Aphasia.
The list above is relatively clinical in the way it outlines these skills. A more human explanation would be to say simply that AAC aids individuals in expressing themselves. This has a whole host of secondary positive outcomes, from increased quality of life to reduced negative behaviours among those who now have the ability to communicate effectively.
AAC AND ORAL
LANGUAGE CAN BE MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL
A final important point is that use of AAC does not negatively impact typical speech and language development.
AAC as a supplement for a child with a language disorder does not mean that individual will always then be an AAC user; in fact, the two skill sets – AAC and oral language – can be mutually beneficial.