Saturday, July 25, 2009

Augmentative Communication For All

Recently I was speaking with a friend who has worked with special needs kids for a long time. She asked me who Augmentative and Assistive Communication is appropriate for. Many parents have the same question, and in my experience most of it find out about it outside of school-- at conferences, during those late night obsessive internet searches or from other parents. AAC is a subset of Assistive Technology. 

That is too bad, because AAC can be a miracle, a way to tap into the minds of children who are trapped in a body that won't allow them to communicate the way the rest of us do. CAC has been working on the area of Assistive Technology (AT) for two years now to learn more about the District's services and delivery and how they have improved as one of the areas of agreement in the consent decree. 

Under IDEA, IEP teams must consider Assistive Techchnology, including AAC, for every child with a disability. That is all well and good, but who is an AAC user?

Any child who is language delayed or non-verbal is a potential AAC user, regardless of disability type. If your child uses sign language or PECS, or even tries to communicate with you using a variety of strategies like gestures, leading you to things, or vocal approximations, he or she IS already an AAC user-- he or she IS already using alternative means to communicate. 

This means many students with autism, cerebral palsy and other disorders are potential AAC users. You can read a case study of a child with autism using a speech generating device here. You can learn more about the assessment process here.

If you think your child is a potential AAC user, or is an AAC user now, a full AAC assessment can help your IEP team to learn more about what devices and services would be appropriate in supporting their educational progress. 

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