Teaching AAC

Many children with severe speech disorders use alternative and augmentative communication. This allows them to communicate with others without having to use their own voices. Some schools have started providing students with some of these different kinds of alternative and augmentative communication, but for many special education teachers, teaching students how to use these devices can be difficult and time consuming. Teachers have gotten frustrated because they feel as though their students are the only ones not grasping the concepts needed for the successful use of alternative and augmentative devices.

Most adults, and even children will talk to babies, even when they know the baby does not necessarily understand and definitely cannot respond. This time of simply absorbing the spoken language allows the child to learn the language through the modeling by older individuals. If the baby is not spoken to, or does not have language modeled to them, it will take much longer for language to develop, if it does at all. The same goes for children learning how to use alternative and augmentative communication.

A child cannot be expected to learn how to use an unfamiliar device without proper modeling. Just as any other child, students learning how to use these devices must learn by modeling. Therefore, it is important and extremely necessary for the student to be given period of modeling. Teachers must take the time and show the students how to use the device, and how the device relates to verbal communication. If they do not have this time, the device simply becomes an element of frustration because it would be very difficult for them to figure it out on their own. Only after this period of modeling should the student be expected to use the device correctly.

In short, every student learning to use an alternative and augmentative device must be dealt with intentionally. It takes time for the any student, especially those will special needs, to learn any task. The task of learning language is a difficult one, so give the student time to simply absorb material. Secondly, the student cannot produce an output (using the device) without a proper amount of input (modeling how to use the device). Lastly, those students learning how to use alternative and augmentative devices are still bright school children who can learn. All it takes is patience and time for the student to catch on.

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