Myths and Realities of Augmentative Communication

Support communication in ANY form – success inspires success.

Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley

By:  Amanda Nagle, MA, CCC-SLP/L

Frank in therapy Two-year-old Frank vocalizes the word “duck” while playing with a computer laptop and recorder. Frank attends weekly speech pathology sessions at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley to help with issues that stemmed from food allergies and delayed truck core strength. After a year of therapy, Frank is now quite a talkative young boy!
Photo by: Nancy Kerner

Parents understandably worry when they hear the words “speech generating device”, “AAC” and  “augmentative communication”. Concerns are voiced such as:

  • The Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) doesn’t think she will talk and is giving up on her speech
  • My son talks, why is the SLP recommending a speech generating device? My son doesn’t fit this profile!
  • Won’t that device stop her talking and make her too lazy to talk?

That is just not the case. The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) defines augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) as “

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H: ‘Not an Impostor’

Autistics speaking for themselves, in whatever way they can, to help others understand. Autism Speaks for themselves; they’re not a platform for autistics, but a roadblock – which is becoming clearer to the general population (thank goodness).

Thirty Days of Autism

H and I recently co presented as a part of the training for the summer staff of our local Community Living/Inclusion organization.  This was a really fabulous experience for a number of reasons.

The openness of the staff to considering the ideas and perspectives being expressed was obvious, and very much appreciated.

For me it is particularly important to be able to feature Harrison’s experience and perspective, not only because of my commitment to the idea of ‘nothing about us without us’ (and the specific commitment to this I have made regarding my presentations), and the impact this lived experience in expanding the understanding for others, but also because it empowers my son.

Presenting is such a powerful way for this young man to feel he has some agency and can take an active role in combating negative stigma. The role this has in supporting his healthy sense of self…

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