AAC: Empowering Children to Communicate Effectively

AAC, or Alternative and Augmentative Communication, is a transformative tool particularly beneficial for autistic children or those facing challenges with spoken language. It’s designed to support and enhance communication in various ways.

Understanding AAC

AAC encompasses a range of strategies to assist children who may not speak or have limited verbal abilities, as well as those seeking to augment their speech for clearer communication. It includes unaided methods like gestures and sign language, low-tech options like picture boards, and high-tech solutions such as AAC apps.

Unaided AAC

Unaided AAC involves communication methods that don’t rely on external tools, making them accessible anytime. Examples include:

  • Gestures like pointing or nodding
  • Sign language
  • Expressive facial gestures and body language

Low-Tech AAC

Low-tech AAC uses simple tools to facilitate communication, such as:

  • Core word communication boards
  • Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
  • Basic writing tools

High-Tech AAC

High-tech AAC incorporates digital technology, offering sophisticated means of communication through:

  • AAC applications like Proloquo2Go
  • Typing devices
  • Switch buttons for selection and interaction

Benefits of AAC

AAC offers numerous advantages, including enhancing language skills, aiding in communication breakdowns, reducing frustration, and potentially decreasing challenging behaviours. It’s a pathway to clearer communication and greater independence.

Dispelling AAC Misconceptions

Contrary to common myths, AAC can encourage speech development, is suitable for children with varying levels of verbal skills, and is not always a lifelong necessity. It’s a flexible tool that adapts to a child’s evolving communication needs.

Children who use AAC won’t talk  – The evidence suggests that AAC actually increases children’s speech output.

AAC is only for non-verbal kids  – It is for a range of children, not only those with limited verbal abilities. For children who are verbal, AAC is a great tool to improve the clarity of their speech and teach them to expand their sentences.

Embracing AAC is a step towards empowering your child to communicate more effectively, opening doors to greater understanding and connection.

Supportive Resources

For additional guidance and resources on AAC, consider exploring expert content from Rachel Madel SLP or the comprehensive information provided by Speech Pathology Australia. Additionally, a selection of books featuring AAC users can offer valuable insights and representation.

Rachel Madel SLP


Speech Pathology Australia 

List of books with AAC representation



Millar, D., Light, J., & Schlosser, R. (2006) “The Impact of Augmentative and Alternative Communication Intervention on the Speech Production of Individuals With Developmental Disabilities: A Research Review” Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2006, Vol. 49, 248-264. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/021)

Schlosser, R., & Wendt, O. (2008) “Effects of Augmentative and Alternative Communication Intervention on Speech Production in Children With Autism: A Systematic Review” American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2008, Vol. 17, 212-230. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2008/021)

Walters, C., Sevcik, R. A., & Romski, M. (2021). Spoken vocabulary outcomes of toddlers with developmental delay after parent-implemented augmented language intervention. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.


About the Author

Sophie Cirillo is a certified Practicing Speech Pathologist. She has worked in Early Intervention and School-based settings to help build communication skills of children and adolescents, both with and without disabilities.

Sophie says, ” There is nothing more rewarding about what I do than giving people a voice, truly empowering them to express themselves and participate in different walks of life.”