Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

People use symbols every day in life to communicate- we look for a McDonald’s© sign to find the restaurant, we look for an EXIT sign to leave a building, we know green means ‘go’ and red means ‘stop’. Symbols can be used to help children communicate as well.

AAC stands for Augmentative & Alternative Communication. It can be used with a wide variety of diagnoses. AAC is appropriate for children who are not speaking or are difficult to understand. It can be used with children who are speaking but have limited language or difficulty expressing their wants and needs. It can also be used if the child has lost the use of functional language/ articulation secondary to an accident or an acquired disorder (Cerebral palsy, Autism, Apraxia, Brain injury, Strokes and/or syndromes).

• When is a child an appropriate candidate for AAC? There is no specific age (as early as 18 months).
• How do I know my child is ready? If they have willingness to learn and the desire to communicate.

Types of AAC Systems/Strategies

Sign language and functional gestures
Uses no-tech, low-tech and high-tech strategies/systems

No-tech strategies

 High-tech Devices

Low Tech devices

No-Tech Strategies High-Tech Strategies Low Tech Strategies

During an AAC evaluation, a patient’s communication skills/needs, motor skills, cognition and vision are assessed to determine the best match for the child. The symbols used for AAC can vary from real photos to line drawings or picture symbols depending on what the child understands at the time of the assessment.

For more information about an AAC evaluation or treatment, please contact your child’s speech-language pathologist at Nicklaus Children's Hospital or Central Scheduling at (305) 663-8413.     

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