Communication is the means by which we engage with others, learn and how we get our needs met. Supporting students with ASD to develop and extend their expressive communication increases engagement with others and the curriculum, success, self worth and helps minimise stress and behavioural concerns. Students with communication problems may benefit from assistive technology to enhance their receptive language and their ability to express themselves.
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is multimodal system of communicating. A student who uses AAC will use a range of strategies across their environments. Using AAC enhances a student's communication skills and does not replace speech; studies show that using AAC can support speech development.
AAC systems can be:
- no-tech such as sign language, gestures and use of cues or real objects
- low-tech such as chat books, cue cards, picture exchange programs
- high-tech such as interactive communication boards or speech generating devices.
Determining if an individual would benefit from the use of an AAC system requires the student's team to evaluate:
- the student's needs
- their current means of communication
- their potential for using different kinds of AAC
- the environments in which the AAC will be used.
This individual assessment is best managed by a speech-language pathologist with knowledge and experience of AAC systems.