Skip to main content
Posted on April 19, 2023

We recognise that autistic people have a preference for different terminology to describe themselves and autism. We have used a variety of terms, yet acknowledge that the language used may not reflect everyone’s views or own identity. As always, we are committed to representing our users’ preferences, and welcome feedback.

April is Autism Acceptance Month. It is estimated that 40% of people on the autistic spectrum have difficulty with spoken communication.  As leading providers of AAC, we wanted to share a few of the ways that AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) can be helpful for autistic people, including those who are non-speaking.  

Ways which AAC can be a helpful communication tool for people with autism:

1. Building connections with others

2. Developing language skills

3. Increasing independence

4. Reducing frustration

5. Supporting learning

1. Building connections with others

AAC can help people with autism to participate more fully in social interactions by facilitating communication with others.

People on the autistic spectrum may have no speech, or communicate with single words and short phrases. Pre-set common phrases found in vocabularies such as Voco Chat take away some of the pressure which comes with spontaneous language and give cues to strike up a conversation.

a child patting the backs of a member of teaching staff and an Assistive Technology Specialist.

Having crucial access to communicate with AAC may mean that autistic people are able to connect with others more easily in ways some might take for granted. For example, becoming closer with family, forming friendships and even romantic relationships.

Overall, AAC can be a powerful tool for supporting the communication needs of autistic individuals, and can help promote greater participation and inclusion in a range of social settings, allowing for connections to be made more easily.

2. Developing language skills

Autistic people can develop language skills with the aid of AAC, which provides visual and auditory input to help learn new words and phrases.

Without typical verbal speech and the interaction which accompanies it, autistic children may face delays in developing language skills. AAC is a tool for learning language, symbol-based vocabularies provide visual and auditory prompts for words and concepts they represent.

A graphic icon of a red speaker and black letter of and landscape.

For example, if an AAC user wants to talk about the word ‘play’ within their AAC vocabulary, the cell has a corresponding symbol, written word, and audio feedback from the AAC device. This is helpful for autistic children, who typically respond best to information that’s presented visually and remember speech sounds and visual cues together.

This means that alternative communicate can be a tool to accelerate language development for people with autism.

3. Increasing independence

AAC can increase independence by enabling people with autism to communicate their needs and wants more effectively.

Without the ability to communicate, people with autism may be unable to navigate the world on their own terms. Independence for non-speaking people with autism may be something as simple as having their say, or something more substantial, such as the ability to pursue their own interests, activities, and goals.

A child's hand touching the screen of a Grid Pad 12.

AAC can allow people with autism to communicate their preferences and empower decision making. Users can make their thoughts, needs and opinions known, rather than having people make assumptions about them.

AAC can also support users to explore the world on their own. Location-based language suggestions in AAC software such as Grid, gives prompts for common phrases. For example, the words to buy a bus ticket, or order a coffee. Such suggestions could work as a cue for autistic people who face difficulty processing contextual information and producing language according to this.

With AAC, non-speaking autistic people can reduce their reliance of others for communication and be equipped for a more independent day-to-day life.

4. Reducing frustration

Communication difficulties can often lead to frustration and behaviours that others may find challenging.

The challenge to effectively express feelings, needs and wants, as detailed above, can lead to anxiety, anger and behaviours which take shape in a number of ways including: refusing and ignoring requests, behaving in ways others may find inappropriate, and sometimes aggression.

A graphic of a Grid Pad being dropped on the ground.

Differences in sensory processing, can make certain environments stressful for people with autism, and communication difficulties can make this tough to express. For example, when someone with an oversensitivity to sound is exposed to a loud and bustling train station, AAC may provide a way to let a communication partner know that they feel uncomfortable and would like to leave.

Therefore, having AAC in an autistic person’s communication toolkit can provide an outlet to express oneself, reducing frustration and the behaviours which often accompany it.

5. Supporting learning

AAC can be a valuable tool to support autistic people in educational settings. Whether this be mainstream schools, Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools and other special education settings, availability of AAC can make the classroom a more equal place.

Children, teens, and even adult learners on the spectrum, may face challenges engaging and interacting during lessons, without the ability to communicate.

A member of teaching staff and a student working with Grid on an iPad, in a classroom setting.

Access to paper-based and/or high-tech AAC technology gives everyone the opportunity to participate in education and classroom activities. Communication is supported when people can join in with discussions and ask clarifying questions, forming a crucial part of learning.

Access to AAC can help autistic students follow lesson structures more effectively, so they are less likely to be left behind in education.

AAC can be a crucial tool for autistic people who struggle with spoken communication. AAC provides visual and auditory input to support language development and help individuals communicate effectively, ultimately promoting inclusion in social and educational settings.

By recognising the benefits of AAC and working towards making it more accessible, we can empower individuals with autism and enhance their quality of life. As we observe Autism Acceptance Month, let’s acknowledge the value of AAC and its potential to support communication for those who need it.

Try Grid for iPad for free

Grid for iPad is our touch accessible app for iOS which helps autistic people with communication difficulties express themselves and live more independently.

Try Grid

Request a quote

Quickly put together what you need and send it over to us.

Request a quote

Mailing list

Join the Smartbox mailing list for regular updates and news.

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at

We use MailChimp as our marketing email platform. When you join, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be transferred to MailChimp for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.