Josh is a nonverbal boy in a special day class for students with autism. He is 6. Reading time in his classroom consists of students listening to an audio book, while the teacher sits at the front of the room, holding up the book and turning the pages. Students sit at their desks; too far from the book to see much. When the audio book is finished, so is “Reading” time. Students move on to other work. 

In the SLP world, AAC has finally moved beyond its infancy, but there are still many clinicians who don’t know a whole lot about it.  Many graduate programs do not offer a course in AAC, and it’s not a required course for licensure or certification.But, these days there is probably not any population you might work with - infants to the elderly, from Autism to Aphasia to ALS to Cerebral Palsy to a whole list of chromosomal abnormalities.

While most of the clients who are referred to me are children on the Autism Spectrum,  I also see clients post-stroke, with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), with cerebral palsy - a whole range of clients. Most of my blog posts are either general AAC tips and resources, I do focus on children and young adults, and usually at the beginning of their AAC journey.  I want to help people. Get. Started. Right. Because that is often where the breakdown begins.

I was asked recently by a student’s advocate to list the Top 10 “Traits” of an AAC-User Classroom. I think they are good to keep in mind as we start a new school year off, whether with new or returning students. 1. All students who do not have sufficient verbal language skills to meet all of their communication needs have an aac system that offers them at least basic core vocabulary.

People who use AAC are those individuals whose current mode of communication does not meet all their communication needs; restricts the quality and quantity of interactions with others.  All individuals are considered potential candidates for AAC; ASHA and the Joint Commission for Persons with Disabilities have a “zero exclusion” criterion and consider not whether an individual is eligible for services, but rather consider where along the continuum they are currently operating as a starting point .  As long as there is a discrepancy between needs and abilities, an individual qualifies for services in AAC.