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Posted on October 4, 2017

Simple AAC – 1. Show

SHOWING an AAC learner how they can use symbols to communicate is one of the best things you can do to support their learning, and there is a lot of evidence to show that this works!

AAC - Show

Simply point to or select symbols as you talk

This is also sometimes called Aided Language Stimulation or modelling but really all this means is: show the learner how to use their AAC by using their AAC system when you are talking to them.

This can be on their high tech device, or it might be a low tech symbol board. It could even be a combination of both.

We all learned spoken language by watching and listening to other people speak before we started practicing it ourselves. Similarly, if we wanted to learn a foreign language then it’s well known that the best way to learn it is to go to the country where the language is spoken to be surrounded by it. This is what our AAC learners need to do too.

We can surround the AAC learner with their language just by showing them language using their AAC. This is even more important if the AAC learner is one of the only children in their class or school using AAC.

Quick tips to get you started

  • You don’t need to point to or select every single word you say. You can just show the most important words in the sentence and use speech to fill in the gaps, as in the example below from our Facebook Community:

  • As well as modelling what you are saying to the AAC learner, try also giving them some ideas of things that they could say and show them how they can say it using their AAC. Thinking about the foreign language analogy above, being in the country where that language is spoken would be really helpful, but it would be great to be taught some useful phrases too!
  • Remember, it’s okay to make mistakes when you are doing this, as this shows the AAC user that it’s okay for them to make mistakes too, and shows them what they can do if they make a mistake.

  • Try thinking out loud too, so you are telling the learner what you are doing. For example, “Hmm, I’m looking for the word ‘big’, which is a describing word, so I need to go to my Describing page”.

  • It might help you to use this strategy more if you choose a set time each day when you really focus on using the learner’s AAC when talking to them. This could be a mealtime, or a time when you are playing with them each day.

SLT and Assistive Technology Specialist Christopher Bugaj created this fantastic video which explains Aided Language Stimulation in a way that is really easy to understand, and can help families and professionals working with an AAC user to see why it is so important.


See the full SIMPLE AAC series 

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