Speak my language -- modeling and AAC

modeling Jun 8, 2016

It is pretty much impossible to speak a language you don’t know.

That sounds like a ridiculous statement -- of course you can’t speak a language you don’t know.

But when it comes to working with an AAC user, remembering this idea is essential.

Using augmentative and alternative communication IS learning a new language.

This is a language of buttons and boards. It is a language of composing thoughts and phrases one piece at a time through clicks and keystrokes not to mention the actual comprehension of grammar and words.

It simply wouldn’t be fair to expose communicators to a new language and expect them to immediately begin to communicate without having been taught the language first.

And that’s why modeling (or aided language input) is such an important piece of the AAC puzzle.


What is modeling? Sarah Blackstone PhD, CCC-SP, said that modeling is simply “showing someone how to do something so that they can do it some time in the near or distant future.”

Whatever version of AAC you use (and we think CoughDrop is a pretty great choice), it is important for teachers, therapists and parents -- especially parents -- to learn and model the new AAC language chosen to help the communicator speak.

Lauren Enders, an ASHA certified SLP with a passion for AAC said, “If we simply place the system in front of the child, they will almost never be able to use it. We must teach them how to communicate by showing them and expecting their responses.”

So push buttons, explore boards, search for words, and meander the system. Good AAC gives communicators much more than just a way to request an item they want. Good AAC builds relationships through motivated communication.

But that can't happen until the communicator -- with help from the rest of the AAC team -- learns how to use the program.

The involvement of the entire communication team in learning this new, unique language builds confidence and trust which lays the first pieces of a foundation that will support the group moving forward forever after.

Some resources to help your communication team engage and model AAC language.

Follow our modeling board on Pinterest for regularly updated ideas

Make AAC use at home the best it can be

Great tips to help your child learn the AAC language

Two essential AAC learning components

Another view of modeling for AAC use

Melissa DeMoux

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