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Posted on October 17, 2017

Simple AAC – 5. Language

When teaching AAC try to remember all of the different reasons we use language.

It’s not just about asking for things! (Although this can be very motivating for some learners.) We need different types of words – not just things.

Different types of words

I recently heard a statistic from Cathy Binger, that only 20% of a 2 year olds’ utterances are requests.

So what about the other 80%! To be able to communicate fully, 100% of the time, we need describing words, action words, position words, question words, and more.

And we need different language functions – that is, the reasons we communicate.

Asking for what we want is all very well, but once we have that thing, we might want to ask a question about it, tell someone else about it, get someone’s attention or help with it.

The reasons we communicate

Consider the difference between an AAC learner who knows how to ask for playdough, compared to a learner who knows:

  • how to ask for a different colour
  • tell someone that’s their favourite colour
  • get help to open the playdough
  • ask someone else to roll out the playdough if they can’t
  • protest if someone tries to take the rolling pin they want to use
  • negotiate with a peer to take turns with the shape cutters
  • answer the question ‘what are you making?’


Here are just some of the other functions of language we need to teach:


Requesting. But this could be requesting information as well as just things!



See the full SIMPLE AAC series 

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