Is Your Patient Ready for An AAC Device?

It can be hard to know when the right time to introduce an AAC device to your patient is. Your patient and their family might be hoping to work only on verbal speech. You might be unsure of what research says about the best time to start with AAC. On top of that, if you’re new to AAC, the whole process can seem daunting.

Good news: Lingraphica is here to help, even if it’s your first time using AAC with a patient.

Start with a simple question. Is there a gap between what your patient wants and needs to communicate about, and what they are able to communicate about? If the answer is yes, then some type of AAC might be helpful for your patient.

Next, you might need to address some of the myths and common concerns that exist about AAC. These include:

Myth #1: AAC will be a crutch that will prevent my family member from talking.

This common fear of “giving up on speech” is not supported by the research in AAC. In fact, an analysis of research has shown the opposite: using an AAC device can help to improve language. The multimodal input of an AAC device (picture, written word, verbal word) helps engage the brain.

Furthermore, many people can repeat the AAC device even when they cannot initiate speech. Make sure your client and their family know that AAC is an additional tool – not something that will take the place of verbalization.

Myth #2: It’s too soon to start AAC; let’s focus on traditional therapy first.

There is no minimum amount of time post-stroke (or other diagnosis) that is required before introducing AAC. Early introduction of AAC can lead to improved outcomes.

Consider this question: How long is too long to go without a reliable way to communicate? It might help to think of an AAC device like a walker. It is okay to introduce it early so that it can provide assistance right away, and help the user to regain the skills they are working on.

Myth #3: AAC is too complicated – I don’t understand computers.

This is a common concern from people who have not used a lot of technology. Reassure your patient and family that it’s as simple as touching a picture – nothing complex to learn.

So, what are signs that your patient might be a good candidate for a Lingraphica AAC device?

  • Moderate-severe or severe expressive impairment (secondary to any diagnosis); OR a moderate impairment that is expected to deteriorate (e.g. PPA)
  • A family member or other communication partner to support and encourage
  • Ability to access a device through direct selection or simple accessories (e.g. mouse, joystick, stylus)

If the list seems short, it’s because it is! There are not a lot of requirements for using AAC. If your client is hesitant about technology or just does not seem motivated, often that changes when they see how simple the device is. The device will be personalized right away to focus on communication that is fun and meaningful. Remember that trying an AAC device is just that – trying it. You, your patient, and their family can make a final decision after the trial. You’ll be supported by a Lingraphica Clinical Consultant – an SLP who can provide guidance on customizing the device, introducing it to your patient, and even work with your patient and their family directly.

If you’re not sure how to get started, here are a couple of tools that can help:

Lingraphica QuickAssess App: This app for the iPad® introduces AAC to your client and gives you, the SLP, an idea of your patient’s strengths and weaknesses related to AAC. Tasks include eye-hand coordination, visual field cut check, receptive language, expressive language, and device simulation. Send the results to a Lingraphica SLP to discuss further!

101 Things You Can Do With an SGD: Use this checklist to identify what your client can and cannot say verbally, and establish what’s important to them. This will give you and your client good information about how an AAC device can help them, and where to start with personalizing.

Download the Checklist

Learn About AAC and Speech-Generating Devices

Lingraphica Can Help

We help adults with speech and language impairments to reconnect with family and friends, improve communication, and live their best lives. Call us at 866-570-8775 or visit the link below to get started.