Stand by!!.... Allowing wait time for AAC

Oct 24, 2023

When working to build AAC abilities, one topic that often comes up is the need for longer wait times to benefit AAC users. This concept is important for communication partners and supporters to understand.

Wait time for AAC users is more than a nice idea, it is a MUST!!

But why??
Why is patient, expectant waiting so important when it comes to engaging with AAC communicators?

Here are just a few reasons why it's important to stand by and allow time for communication to have the chance to blossom.

  1. Due to the nature of AAC, it usually takes a bit longer to compose a message. A person needs to navigate to the individual words needed for their phrase within the communication boards of their AAC. While AAC users may have some pre-programmed phrases for quick interactions, we WANT to encourage them to find unique and fitting words to express themselves. Calm and collected waiting while a person finds the words they need is empowering.

2. Not only does it take longer to put together a message with AAC, it can take a few extra moments for some communicators to understand the question or their need to respond. Hopeful, eager attention from a communication partner can signal to a communicator that a reply is needed and allow them the time to think about what they would like to say next.

  1. Gently focusing on the communicator as they work out what to say and then say it helps them see that we care about their message. Try to avoid performing other tasks, engaging with other people, or scrolling the internet while a person composes their message. Let them know your attention is patiently with them and their message is worth a brief wait.

4. Demonstrating to an AAC communicator that you are willing to be tolerant and accepting of the time it takes to compose a message often lessens the pressure that can be part of a conversation. Knowing that you will forbear for the time it takes to say what they think without pressure to respond in a certain way or the demand of a quick reply gives the communicator space to think, feel, and answer in a more natural way.

A Couple of Important Reminders that Relate to Wait Time & Interactions

Keep these tips in mind when conversing with AAC users to really support and encourage a solid dialogue.

Melissa DeMoux

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