Leveling up AAC in Early Intervention
Updated: Oct 23
Let’s talk about the status of AAC in early intervention. A huge thank you to Lorang et al. (2022) for developing a study that details the current perspectives of SLPs in this population.
In this study, they asked 376 SLPs from across the United States a variety of questions related to AAC and how they implemented it with kids birth to three.
To start, the study looked at what AAC supports were recommended to kids with no spoken language. They found that SLPs were most likely to recommend sign language followed by photographs, symbols/communication Boards, pictures from the internet/magazines, high-tech AAC apps, and lastly talking switches. There was only a tiny subset of SLPs that recommended high-tech AAC.
Next, the study gathered information related to factors that determined the introduction of AAC. They found that expressive and receptive language skills were the leading factors in starting AAC. Additionally, several SLPs indicated that they considered cognitive ability, diagnosis, and age as factors.
Finally, the study assessed the barriers that impact AAC recommendations and implementation. The most common challenge was caregiver buy-in and follow-through, followed by cost and access to devices/support.
This study gives us a good overview of what AAC in early intervention currently looks like.
We are most likely to recommend no tech (sign language) and lite-tech (pictures) to support our early communicators.
We most often look at the combination of current receptive and expressive language skills before making the recommendation to explore AAC.
Caregiver buy-in and follow-through are the most challenging parts of the process.
We know that there are some limitations when it comes to no-tech and lite-tech AAC. These systems do not offer robust vocabulary and are not suited to grow with the long-term communication needs of the child.
The question becomes, how do we use this information to inform our practice and better support our clients? The answer is- we grow our AAC skills with our clients' needs. With experience and professional development, we can support young children in reaching their fullest communication potential and gain the confidence to better coach caregivers on AAC.
If you want to learn more about implementing AAC with toddlers and preschoolers, we would love to have you in the AAC in EI course.
Let’s give our youngest communicators a chance to find their voice!
Lauren Greenlief, MA, CCC-SLP
Instructor of the AAC in EI course
Owner, Inspire Connections Therapy
Source: Lorang, E., Maltman, N., Venker, C., Eith, A., & Sterling, A. (2022). Speech-language pathologists’ practices in augmentative and alternative communication during early intervention. Augmentative and Alternative Communication. https://doi.org/10.1080/07434618.2022.2046853