• Asha-


  • Role of SLP in AAC

  • Roles and Responsibilities

  • SLPs play a central role in the screening, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of persons requiring AAC intervention. The professional roles and activities in speech-language pathology include clinical/educational services (diagnosis, assessment, planning, and treatment), advocacy, education, administration, and research. 

  • Appropriate roles for SLPs include the following: 

  • Provide training for medical and allied health professionals, educators, and family members about AAC use and the impact of AAC on quality of life 

  • Educate other professionals and caregivers on the needs of persons using AAC and the role of SLPs in meeting the needs of individuals who use AAC 

  • Serve as a liaison between the family and the SGD provider 

  • Screen individuals who may benefit from AAC intervention 

  • Determine the need for further assessment and/or referral for other services 

  • Conduct a comprehensive, transdisciplinary, culturally and linguistically appropriate assessment related to provision of AAC services 

  • Refer to other professionals (rehabilitation engineer, assistive technology professional, occupational therapist, physical therapist, music therapist, vision specialist) to facilitate access to comprehensive services, reduce barriers, and maximize opportunities for successful AAC use 

  • Involve individuals and family members in decision making to the greatest extent possible throughout the assessment and intervention process 

  • Develop and implement intervention plans that are culturally and linguistically appropriate to maximize effective communication between individuals who use AAC and their communication partners across the lifespan 

  • Document progress, determine appropriate AAC modifications, and determine dismissal and follow-up criteria, if indicated 

  • Generate reports to help with funding and collaborate with funding agencies 

  • Counsel persons who use AAC and their families/caregivers regarding communication-related issues and provide education aimed at preventing abandonment and other complications relating to AAC use 

  • Serve as an integral member of an interdisciplinary team working with individuals who use AAC and their families/caregivers 

  • Participate in individualized education program (IEP) meetings 

  • Ensure that AAC goals and AAC use are included in a student's IEP 

  • Remain informed of research in the area of AAC, and help advance the knowledge base related to the nature of AAC assessment and intervention 

  • Use evidence-based practice to evaluate functional outcomes of AAC intervention 

  • Know about funding sources and the requirements for applying for funding from each source 

  • Advocate for individuals and their families/caregivers at the local, state, and national levels, particularly with regard to funding, education, and acceptance of AAC use. 


There are many common myths that can potentially affect an individual's or family member's willingness and motivation to use AAC. However, available research does not support these myths (Romski & Sevcik, 2005). \

Myth 1: Introducing AAC will reduce an individual's motivation to improve natural speech and will hinder language development (including the development of social communication skills). AAC should be introduced only after the ability to use natural speech has been completely ruled out. Also, It’s too soon to start AAC; let’s focus on traditional therapy first.


Research Findings 

  • The use of AAC does not affect motivation to use natural speech and can, in fact, help improve natural speech when therapy focuses simultaneously on natural speech development and use of AAC in a multimodal approach (Millar, Light, & Schlosser, 2006; Sedey, Rosin, & Miller, 1991). 

  • Intervention for minimally verbal school-age children with ASD that included use of an SGD increased spontaneous output and use of novel utterances compared with the same interventions that did not include use of an SGD (Kasari et al., 2014). 

  • AAC can help decrease the frequency of challenging behaviors that may arise from frustration or communication breakdowns (Carr & Durand, 1985; Drager, Light, & McNaughton, 2010; Mirenda, 1997; Robinson & Owens, 1995). 


There is no minimum amount of time post-stroke (or other diagnosis) that is required before introducing AAC. Early introduction of AAC can lead to improved outcomes.

  • Consider this question: How long is too long to go without a reliable way to communicate? It might help to think of an AAC device like a walker. It is okay to introduce it early so that it can provide assistance right away, and help the user to regain the skills they are working on.


Myth 2: Young children are not ready for AAC and will not require AAC until they reach school age. 


Research Findings 

  • Early implementation of AAC can aid in the development of natural speech and language (Lüke, 2014; Romski et al., 2010; Wright, Kaiser, Reikowsky, & Roberts, 2013) and can increase vocabulary for children ages 3 years and younger (Romski, Sevcik, Barton-Hulsey, & Whitmore, 2015). 

  • AAC use with preschool-age children has been associated with increased use of multisymbol utterances and development of grammar (Binger & Light, 2007; L. Harris, Doyle, & Haff, 1996; see Romski et al. [2015] for a review). 

  • AAC use can lead to increases in receptive vocabulary in young children (Brady, 2000; Drager et al., 2006). 


  • Myth 3: Prerequisite skills such as understanding of cause and effect and showing communicative intent must be demonstrated before AAC should be considered; individuals with cognitive deficits are not able to learn to use AAC. 


Research Findings 

  • Measures of pre-communicative cognitive ability may be invalid for some populations, and research suggests that impaired cognition does not preclude communication (Kangas & Lloyd, 1988; Zangari & Kangas, 1997). Development of language skills can lead to functional cognitive gains (Goossens', 1989). 

  • AAC intervention for children with complex communication needs helps develop functional communication skills, promotes cognitive development, provides a foundation for literacy development, and improves social communication (Drager et al., 2010). 


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