When is the right age to start AAC?

Feb 01, 2023

Are you wondering when the right time is to start your student or child with AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication)? The answer is… any age! Any GLPs that may need AAC can benefit anytime, there is no age requirement.  When it comes to GLPs, they could all benefit from some form of AAC. 


Things speech-language pathologists should keep in mind when deciding whether to trial AAC with a student 

  • Speech generating devices have been funded for children as young as 10 months. Laura Hayes, the instructor of our AAC + GLP course, has successfully had devices funded for children this young. 
  • AAC does not mean we are "giving up" on spoken words.
  • Research has shown that robust visual supports help enhance communication.
  • An unaided communication sample can help you explain to parents how the child is communicating and why AAC might be beneficial.
  • AAC can decrease communication frustration, increase shared joy, and can even increase spoken words. 


Reasons why we shouldn’t “wait and see” to trial AAC

  • If your child is struggling with communication, having communication breakdowns that result in frustration, or their speech isn’t supporting them in moments of dysregulation or illness, AAC can be an amazing tool to help bridge these difficulties. 
  • There’s many kinds of AAC. We can use light/soft tech dynamic boards and high-tech speech generating devices for robust language 
  • Critical language learning is strongest before 5 years of age. If we take a “wait and see” approach we may miss these critical years. 
  • AAC users get statistically less modeled language than those learning spoken words. They need every opportunity to learn their language system.

More tips for helping parents understand the benefits of AAC

  • Research tells us AAC can help augment spoken words and can enhance literacy and written expression. 
  • Adult AAC user’s report that AAC supports decreased frustration, increased ability to self-advocate, and increased social connections. 
  • Some autistic adults have described instances of having access to AAC as an emotional relief during moments of high stress and/or dysregulation. 
  • We all use AAC. Using alternative forms other than speech occurs regularly throughout our days. Giving a child access to these same tools isn’t something to be scared of. It will only help!  

Interested in learning in-depth about determining if a GLP would benefit from AAC, strategies to support them, and programming their devices?

Our new AAC for Gestalt Language Processors Meaningful Speech course opens TOMORROW on 2/3/23! The course will teach you in-depth how to identify, evaluate and support gestalt language processors who use AAC or may need AAC. There will be modules on different apps, strategies and suggestions for programming. Sign up for the course HERE

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