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Also referred to as alternative communication, augmentative communication (AAC) is known to be that method of communication used by those who are suffering from severe speech and language disabilities, stroke, ALS, Cerebral Palsy and Autism. This communication method is ideal for those who speak in a manner that is extremely difficult for anyone to understand. This also works for those who are unable to verbally speak but have cognitive abilities. The augmentative communication method actually allows the speech and language disability sufferers to use pictures, gestures, communication boards, drawings and symbols to convey the messages that they really want to express.
Augmentative communication has different forms that are capable of suiting the needs of individuals. The methods used in relaying messages will vary on a person to person basis and is tailored to ensure that it meets the specific demands of its users. With the help of AAC, a person with a speech and language problem will just have to point on a single picture in order to send his message. He would point at a picture with someone who is eating if he is hungry. If he feels sick, then he is also given the chance to wear a head pointer to indicate his feelings. There are still other ways through which those who have problems in speaking can communicate their messages.
The good thing about augmentative communication is that its different forms come with an assistive technology component which uses either high or low tech strategies or the combination of both. It is also proven to effective as you do not need to have special skills to completely understand a person who makes use of ACC. The reason behind this is that the entire augmentative communication method is proven to be self-explanatory. If any member of your family faces difficulty when it comes to speaking, then the ACC can definitely help you understand him.
At present, there is a rough estimate of around two million Americans who are already suffering from severe expressive communication problems and speech and language disabilities. This is the main reason why the augmentative communication method continues to rise in popularity. Since the goal of this method is focused on restoring the ability of individuals to communicate their thoughts, wants, needs and emotions despite their problems with the help of a specific technique, a device or a caregiver training, it is no longer surprising why most families who live with someone who have problems in speaking seek the aid of this method. The form of AAC communication method that can be used by an individual will also be dependent on a number of factors. These include his mental and physical capabilities, listener sophistication, financial constraints and age.
What are the Different Forms?
There are actually two basic forms of augmentative communication. The first one is the unaided AAC system. This specific system does not require any external tool in relaying messages. It only involves vocalizations, signed languages and systems, facial expression and gestures. The informed vocalizations and gestures including the use of facial expressions and body language are often perfect for those who have profound language disabilities. Gestures are also used by children who have severe profound language disabilities and those adults that are also suffering from certain conditions such as dementia, dysarthria and aphasia. The good thing about the unaided AAC system is that it is always available to people and can be easily understood by anyone.
The second form of augmentative communication is the aided AAC system. This works by using an electronic or non-electronic device for the purpose of transmitting or receiving messages. The tools used in this form of communication can either be low tech or high tech. The low tech devices used are those that do not require electricity or batteries to work. These include communication board or books. The high tech devices used in this form of communication include voice output communication aids or VOCA and speech generating device or SGD.