Debunking AAC Myths

Deciding who is a good candidate for AAC can feel difficult because of several pervasive myths about high-tech AAC. Here are some of the most common myths and realities when it comes to using AAC.

Myth #1: AAC is only for non-verbal people

Reality: AAC benefits many people who have some verbal language. Although some AAC users are non-verbal, many device users do have some verbal speech. Some examples include a person with good automatic speech but who is unable to tell a story, or a person who can repeat but not initiate speech. If there is a gap between what a person wants and needs to say and what they are able to say, then some type of AAC might benefit them. In fact, using an AAC device can help build even more verbal speech.

Myth #2: AAC is a last resort after traditional therapy has run its course

Reality: AAC and traditional therapy can work together; there is no minimum amount of time to wait post-onset to introduce AAC. Although regaining verbal speech is an important goal for many patients and SLPs, introducing an AAC device early provides two benefits: meeting the patient’s immediate communication needs while also serving as a therapeutic tool to work on verbal speech. Just like a physical therapist does not wait to introduce a walker, an SLP can also empower their patients with tools to communicate right away.

Myth #3: AAC will prevent the user from improving verbal speech

Reality: Using an AAC device can have a beneficial impact on speech and language (Steele, 2004). Lingraphica’s AAC devices are built based on years of research demonstrating that the use of a device improves language abilities in the aphasia population. Furthermore, individuals can use an AAC device to cue their own speech through hierarchical prompting and repetition. One anecdote we hear at Lingraphica time after time is how much a patient’s verbal speech started improving after an AAC device was introduced.

Myth #4: Low-tech AAC must be targeted before trying high-tech AAC

Reality: A patient’s success (or lack thereof) with low-tech AAC is not always indicative of their success with high-tech AAC. Low-tech AAC, like pen and paper or a communication board, can be a great tool in some circumstances. However, for some patients it is not motivating or functional due to the lack of voice output and the need for a partner to interpret it. Furthermore, many people are simply more motivated to use a modern, high-tech device that resembles the phones and tablets common in today’s world.

Myth #5: A user must be independent in order to be successful with AAC

Reality: Although some users will become independent with their AAC devices, many Lingraphica users require some level of partner support when using their device. This could be help with basic operations like charging it, or help with the language system, such as navigating through higher-level categories. A partner-dependent user is a successful user if communication has improved by introducing the device.

Learn More About AAC

The Lingraphica Learning Portal offers free, on-demand courses that are designed to provide fundamental information for SLPs who are new to Lingraphica and high-tech AAC. Click below to learn more and complete the courses.

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Lingraphica Can Help

Lingraphica offers free one-on-one consultations for SLPs who have someone on caseload who might be a good fit for an AAC device but aren’t entirely sure where to start. Call us at 866-570-8775 or visit the link below to get started.

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