Someone on the team identifies that the student needs an AAC system. The team meets and decides on a system. The SLP trains the classroom on how to use the device. A couple months goes by, maybe a little longer, and someone sends out that dreaded email.
“This device is not the right fit for student X. He’s had it for three months now and doesn’t even look at it. Can we meet and pick a new one?”
Getting an AAC system for a student is just the first step! Once we’ve identified a language based AAC system with a robust vocabulary, we need to start teaching the student how to use it!
Here are my top five points I ask teams to consider when they raise this question.
- Has the team (teachers, SLP, classroom staff) been provided with sufficient training on how to use the system?
- Have you set realistic expectations for how the student should be progressing with his new AAC system? **This does not mean set the bar low! It simply means be realistic!**
- Have you modeled enough?! It’s essential to remember that input comes before output. If you haven’t sufficiently modeled on the device, you can’t expect the student to have magically learned how to use it!
- Do you provide the student with many opportunities throughout the day to communicate? Communication should occur naturally throughout the day. Stop and take advantage of these opportunities or create them!
- Do you honor the student’s communication attempts? For example, if the student asked for “drink” did you take him to get a drink? It’s our job to make communication with AAC powerful. Honor those requests whenever possible and if it’s not possible, acknowledge the student and let them know when that request will be available!