Five Finger Modeling -- aided language stimulation made simple

Jan 29, 2020

When it comes to Augmentative and Alternative Communication there aren't many ideas shared more widely than modeling.

Proven by countless experts (and by budding communication supporters as well) modeling, or aided language stimulation, is an essential concept in AAC learning and growth.

Modeling means showing a person how a thing is done. You can model anything, but in AAC when we talk about modeling we mean demonstrating using the speech buttons on a person's communication device to communicate a message. Essentially, we teach them to use AAC by showing them how to use AAC (makes sense, right?).

When a person is first given an AAC device, sometimes an AAC supporter will mistakenly believe that the work is done. Now that the communicator has been given a way to speak they should be able to just jump in and do it.

But that's not the way things work -- for anyone. Setting a person in the cockpit of an airplane doesn't mean they can now fly. Giving a person a keyboard does not mean they can type perfectly. The same is true with AAC.

Communication needs to be given the chance to grow. This quote gives a unique perspective which is important to remember:

"From the moment a baby is born, they hear and respond to the spoken word. We bombard that infant with language for the first 12-18 months of their lives. During that time, we do not expect that they will utter a single understandable word.

"Why then do we expect a child to spontaneously begin using an augmentative system from the first day they receive it? They too, need and deserve a period of learning from the models of others. This modeling can and should be done by parents, peers, siblings, professionals and others on a regular basis for an extended period of time."


Modeling can seem a bit overwhelming at the onset. It's easy to think, "I can't do this. It's too hard. It takes too much time."

Like any thing that really matters, it does take effort. But every ounce of energy put into building a person's communication is worth it!

To make things more simple, we wanted to share one hand's worth of modeling tips to keep you headed in the right direction. That's right, we've broken it down to five easy pointers to help you get the most out of your modeling.

These five-finger modeling objectives can help keep you on track without drowning you in too many details.

Five-Finger Modeling Tips






Keep at it, pretty soon you'll be a pro.

That deserves a high five!


(get a printable copy of these five-finger modeling ideas here)

Melissa DeMoux

Former CoughDrop Director of Marketing and Support -- worked with AAC communicators & teams