Myths

The communication device is my child’s “voice” so I shouldn’t touch the buttons.

Fact:

We all learn language by listening to those around us speak the same language. To learn how to use an AAC system, the user needs to see and hear his communication partner model language using that system (Aided Language Stimulation). Research has proven that this is the most effective approach to successful implementation of an AAC system.

I think I missed my child’s window for language development, it’s too late to introduce a communication system.

Fact:

If your child hasn’t established an organized language system, it is never too late to facilitate communication skills. Start where the child is and build communication skills from there.

If I give my child a communication device, he will become dependent on it and it will prevent the development of verbal speech.

Fact:

AAC will not have a negative effect on speech development, in fact research has proven that when a child begins using an AAC system, it often facilitates verbal speech development.

I should begin with low tech AAC tools (i.e., Picture Exchange Communication System – PECS) before I introduce a high-tech voice output device.

Fact:

It isn’t necessary to prove competence with low-tech before a high-tech device is introduced. A total communication approach provides an individual with a variety of tools to communicate – gestures, facial expressions, low tech systems (PECS) and high-tech devices (iPad with TouchChat). Your SLP can help determine what tools are most appropriate for your child’s current communication abilities.

My child is too young for AAC.

Fact:

Do not withhold AAC with the intention of waiting for speech to develop, this may lead to frustration and further language delays. An AAC system is often a child’s ‘bridge’ to verbal speech. Our immediate goal for our clients is COMMUNICATION, which may occur in a variety of modes – speech, gestures, and an AAC system.

I need to address behaviour before focusing on communication skills

Fact:

When a child with complex communication needs displays behaviours, it is usually because he has no other way to communicate. Providing an AAC device enables a child to access an appropriate means of communication. This increase in communication often results in a decrease in negative behaviours.