Simple AAC – 3. Months and Months
Learning AAC takes time. It’s really important to remember that we might not see results straight away, and some AAC learners will need MONTHS and MONTHS of modelling before they are ready to begin to use AAC themselves.
If you think about it, typically developing children get to hear spoken language modelled to them for 12-18 months before we expect them to say a single word! And before they say any words, speaking children will have typically spent time playing around and experimenting with different speech sounds by babbling.
AAC users need to babble too!
They need time to play around and experiment with different symbols and words. I often hear parents and professionals who are concerned that the AAC learner is “just playing” with the device. That might be true, but this is okay!
“Babies have months and months to babble. AAC users need the same opportunity to practice using their language.”
We can take this as an opportunity to respond to the ‘babble’ as meaningful communication, to help support the learner to understand the symbols they are selecting. Adults do this all the time with young children who are learning to talk.
Sometimes when babies babble, they might make noises which sound like a word, like “dadada”, to which their parents might respond “Yes, daddy! It’s daddy!”. Even if the baby wasn’t saying “Daddy” the response of their parents will help them to learn that word and its meaning.
Even children who have been using AAC for some time will often “play” with a new page or new vocabulary when it is added to their device – how else will they learn what those symbols sound like and what they mean?
So, if your AAC learner is babbling? Respond to the babble as meaningful, and keep on modelling whilst we keep things interesting!
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