Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Why play?
Answer: Play is one of the most important ways for a child to learn. Children learn physical abilities such as muscle control, touch, texture and fine motor control (the ability to manipulate small items). Some of the baby reflexes that children are born with also disappear when they start gaining muscle control. Through physical play and development they gain a cognitive understanding to the world around them and learn to create, imagine, and understand what is happening around them. All these experiences help then develop speech and language. This includes vocabulary, the ability to initiate, wait and take turns and express needs and feelings.
Question: How do I play with my child if they are disabled?
Answer: There are many ways to play with your child but some of the most important concepts to keep in mind are the age related learning steps (where to begin, what to teach and how to make it easier or more difficult) and the fact that your child needs to be actively involved in the activity.
Question: If I start AAC too early, I am scared I will not give my child the chance to develop normal speech. Is this true?
Answer: The ISAAC Bulletin (No. 44, Aug 1996), has an article on “Impact of Augmentative and Alternative Communication on Natural Speech Production – Clinicians’ perspective”. The article states that, “The effect of AAC on natural speech include reduced pressure to speak (Harris-Vanderheiden, 1976a, 1976b), reduced physical tension (McDonald & Schulz, 1973), increased communicative success, increased cognitive organisation, increased motivation to communicate, reduced demands on memory, and reduced muscular tension (Shane, 1992). Through these positive impacts it has been suggested, in literature, that AAC intervention has the effect of increasing speech production (Silverman, 1989 and Shane, 1992)
So in a nutshell, do not fear that the introduction of AAC will impair your childs natural speech development. AAC will rather provide your child with an alternative method of communication that will allow your child to learn concepts that will aid in the production of natural speech.
Question: I am so scared to make the wrong choice. How can I make sure that I choose the right system for myself and my child?
Answer: There is not only one right choice for you. Yes, you need to make sure that your system suits your lifestyle, needs and abilities but once you have the general things in place you will learn to make the system your own, and become faster and faster at it. A good place to start, is going to an AAC practitioner to ensure that you get a good assessment done. They will then also guide you to what kind of communication aid would be suited to you. From there it is your choice, however most practicioners will be able to let you test some of the systems so that you get a feel for it yourself.
You also do not have to rely on just one system, in fact most AAC users have two systems, a computer system, known as a high tech system as well as a low tech system.