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Myths about AAC

child pointing to a communication board

Myth:

People who can not speak are severely mentally retarded.

Reality:

Many conditions may prevent a person from speaking clearly. Many of these involve only the motor production of speech, while the ability to understand speech and to think clearly remains intact.


Myth:

If you encourage a child to use some means other than speech to communicate (e.g. sign language or a communication device), that child will never learn to speak.

Reality:

There is no evidence that the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies prevents the development of speech. On the contrary, there are many reports of individuals whose speech improved significantly, as they became successful at communicating through other means.


Myth:

Children must attain certain levels of cognitive development before they are ready to communicate.

Reality:

All individuals communicate, even if the communication is at such a very basic level that the child does not yet understand the need to communicate with another individual. It is appropriate to look for ways to enhance and facilitate any level of communication.


Myth:

If you give a person with severe communication disabilities an appropriate method of communication, the person will immediately be able to communicate effectively.

Reality:

The use of AAC remains an imperfect and sometimes difficult way to communicate. Many of the people who use AAC devices have had little experience being successful communicators and a device alone may not change this fact. Often, changes in the behaviours of listeners, extensive training on a particular device, and the establishment of a support system are needed before an individual can succeed.


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