Children with expressive and receptive speech or language problems may need to find other ways to communicate. There are many types of AAC that they can use. Speech Pathologists will usually recommend the type of AAC suitable for your child.
As a family, you may have seen someone write in a notebook to answer a question. Maybe you have seen people using gestures to communicate. You may have seen someone point to pictures or push buttons on a computer that speaks for them. These are all forms of augmentative and alternative communication, or AAC.
AAC includes all of the ways we share our ideas and feelings without talking. We all use forms of AAC every day. You use AAC when you use facial expressions or gestures instead of talking. You use AAC when you write a note and pass it to a friend. We may not realize how often we communicate without talking.
Students in special education settings with speech or language problems may need AAC to help them communicate. Some may use it all of the time. Others may say some words but use AAC for longer sentences or with people they don’t know well. AAC can help in school and when talking with friends and family.
There are two main types of AAC—unaided systems and aided systems. You may use one or both types. Most students who use AAC use a combination of AAC types to communicate.
You do not need anything but your own body to use unaided systems. These include gestures, body language, facial expressions, and sign language. At Katandra School students use basic Auslan key signs to help communicate. Across all classes the students also learn a sign of the week.
An aided system uses some sort of tool or device. There are two types of aided systems—low tech and high-tech. A pen and paper is a low tech system. Picture exchanging, pointing to letters, words, or communication books is a low tech system. Touching letters or pictures on a computer screen that speaks for you is a high-tech system. Some of these speech-generating devices, or SGDs, can speak in different languages.
At Katandra School we have adopted a whole school approach to using ‘core boards’ which are displayed in all playgrounds, classrooms and on student desks. All of the staff at Katandra school have been trained in the use of AAC and have regular updates and refresher training each year. Katandra also works closely with the Speech Pathologists from the Department of Education to support the implementation of AAC in the school.
Katandra uses Boardmaker PCS symbols for all our visual communication to ensure consistency in building expressive and receptive communication for the students.
The use of AAC is integrated into every day learning for the students that require that additional support to communicate. Katandra School has an AAC co-ordinator who is an experienced teacher who can work with families and your speech pathologist on an effective form of AAC that will complement the learning environments at the school.
Families can also request a printed copy of our core word boards and aided language displays. Alternatively our staff are able to work with families to create an individualised visual to support communication at home.