AAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication


AAC stands for "Augmentative and Alternative Communication." It is the use of any aided or unaided communication system to assist those with severe expressive communication disorders.

Who uses AAC?

Individuals with a variety of challenges with communication. Those who can not consistently rely on speech to communicate. AAC users include but are not limited to children and adults with:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Genetic Syndromes
  • Childhood Apraxia of Speech

What types of AAC are there?

Un-aided communication consists primarily of nonverbal means of communication.

  • Sign language
  • Facial expressions
  • Gestures

Aided communication consists of either low-tech or high-tech AAC systems that supplement or are an alternative to verbal speech.

  • Picture symbols
  • Photographs
  • A Computer or iPad that produces speech once the user selects the given symbol

How do I know if AAC is right for my child?

Consider AAC as an option for your child if they are:

  • Unable to rely on verbal expression to communicate
  • Delayed in development and use of language as a whole

Consult with a Speech Language Pathologist in order to determine the steps necessary to begin the use of an AAC system with your child. The SLP will coordinate with the child's multidisciplinary team (OT, PT, special education teacher, etc.) in order to determine the appropriate system for each individual child.