What is aac?

What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication?

AAC is any tool that allows individuals to express thoughts, wants and needs, feelings, and ideas. This includes picture communication boards, speech-generating devices, and tangible objects. AAC is augmentative when used to supplement existing speech, and alternative when used in place of speech that is absent or not functional.


Myth: AAC will harm Verbal Speech

AAC will make my child less motivated to talk/AAC will stop my child from developing natural speech/AAC will become a “crutch”

AAC does not impact motivation to use verbal speech! In fact, it may help. Research shows that AAC tends to promote natural speech. It definitely will not hurt speech development. Introducing AAC also doesn’t mean that the team is “giving up” on verbal speech; it may be a part of a larger multi-modal approach and for some, AAC is a transitional strategy.

Myth: Screen time is bad

Will too much screen time have negative effects? 

AAC devices that use a screen are generally excluded from screen time recommendations. It’s important that the technology be used in “active ways”, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Education. Communication is definitely active.

Myth: Only certain ages benefit from AAC

My child is too young for AAC/we should wait until they are school-aged/ I want to rule out verbal speech first before introducing AAC. My child is too old now to try AAC.

AAC is for all ages! Early is best. Early implementation of AAC can facilitate development of natural speech and language, as well as increase vocabulary in young children ages 3 and younger. It takes time and effort to establish a means of communication via AAC, but no one is too “old” to learn. If someone did not have an opportunity while younger, it is not too late to try.

Myth: There are Prerequisites to AAC

They are too “low” functioning to learn to use AAC/they must show skills like understanding cause and effect, picture-matching, and communicative intent before considering AAC.

There are no prerequisites for AAC! Communication is a basic human right. An inability to communicate effectively can interfere with a person’s ability to accurately express intelligence. Everyone is considered a candidate for AAC, as long as there is a gap between communication needs and abilities.  


ASHA Professional Issues on AAC Myths and Realities:  https://tinyurl.com/aacmythsandrealitie

ASHA AAC Information for the Public: https://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/aac/  

ASHA Wire Article on Early AAC Intervention: https://tinyurl.com/ASHAwire 

PrAACtical AAC Blog Post on the Communication Bill of Rights: https://praacticalaac.org/video/video-of-the-week-thinking-about-the-communication-bill-of-rights/  

Uncommon Sense, an AAC Parent Blog: http://niederfamily.blogspot.com/ 

Kreed’s World, an teen AAC User’s YouTube Channel: https://tinyurl.com/kreeds-world 

Angelman Syndrome Foundation, Free AAC Communication Training Webinars: https://tinyurl.com/angelmanfoundation 


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